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History of the Atlantic Coast Conference

Posted Wednesday, August 10, 2005

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The Atlantic Coast Conference was founded on May 8, 1953, at the Sedgefield Inn near Greensboro, N.C., with seven charter members - Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina and Wake Forest - drawing up the conference by-laws.

The withdrawal of seven schools from the Southern Conference came early on the morning of May 8, 1953, during the Southern Conference’s annual spring meeting. On June 14, 1953, the seven members met in Raleigh, N.C., where a set of bylaws was adopted and the name became officially the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Suggestions from fans for the name of the new conference appeared in the region’s newspapers prior to the meeting in Raleigh. Some of the names suggested were: Dixie, Mid South, Mid Atlantic, East Coast, Seaboard, Colonial, Tobacco, Blue-Gray, Piedmont, Southern Seven and the Shoreline. Duke’s Eddie Cameron recommended that the name of the conference be the Atlantic Coast Conference, and the motion was passed unanimously. The meeting concluded with each member institution assessed $200.00 to pay for conference expenses.

On December 4, 1953, conference officials met again at Sedgefield and officially admitted the University of Virginia as the league’s eighth member. The first, and only, withdrawal of a school from the ACC came on June 30, 1971, when the University of South Carolina tendered its resignation.

The ACC operated with seven members until April 3, 1978, when the Georgia Institute of Technology was admitted. The Atlanta school had withdrawn from the Southeastern Conference in January of 1964.

The ACC expanded to nine members on July 1, 1991, with the addition of Florida State University.

The conference expanded to 11 members on July 1, 2004, with the addition of the University of Miami and Virginia Polytechnic Institute
and State University. On October 17, 2003, Boston College accepted an invitation to become the league’s 12th member starting July 1, 2005.

The Schools

Boston College was founded in 1863 by the Society of Jesus to serve the sons of Boston’s Irish immigrants and was the first institution of higher education to be founded in the city of Boston. Originally located on Harrison Avenue in the South End of Boston, the College outgrew its urban setting toward the end of its first fifty years. A new location was selected in Chestnut Hill and ground for the new campus was broken on June 19, 1909. During the 1940s, new purchases doubled the size of the main campus. In 1974, Boston College acquired Newton College of the Sacred Heart, 1.5 miles away. With 15 buildings on 40 acres, it is now the site of the Law School and residence halls. In 2004, BC purchased 43 acres of land from the archdiocese of Boston; this now forms the Brighton campus.

Clemson University is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains near the Georgia border, and the tiger paws painted on the roads make the return to I-85 easier. The school is built around Fort Hill, the plantation home of John C. Calhoun, Vice President to Andrew Jackson. His son-in-law, Tom Clemson, left the land to be used as an agricultural school, and in 1893 Clemson opened its doors as a land-grant school, thanks to the efforts of Ben Tillman.

Duke University was founded in 1924 by tobacco magnate James B. Duke as a memorial to his father, Washington Duke. Originally the school was called Trinity College, a Methodist institution, started in 1859. In 1892, Trinity moved to west Durham where the east campus with its Georgian architecture now stands. Nearby are Sarah P. Duke gardens, and further west the Gothic spires of Duke chapel overlook
the west campus.

Florida State University is one of ten universities of the State University System of Florida. It was established as the Seminary West of the Suwannee by an act of the Florida Legislature in 1851, and first offered instruction at the post-secondary level in 1857. Its Tallahassee campus has been the site of an institution of higher education longer than any other site in the state. In 1905, the Buckman
Act reorganized higher education in the state and designated the Tallahassee school as the Florida Female College. In 1909, it was renamed Florida State College for Women. In 1947, the school returned to a co-educational status, and the name was changed to Florida State University.

Next to I-85 in downtown Atlanta stands Georgia Institute of Technology, founded in 1885. Its first students came to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering, the only one offered at the time. Tech’s strength is not only the red clay of Georgia, but a restored gold and white 1930 model A Ford Cabriolet, the official mascot. The old Ford was first used in 1961, but a Ramblin’ Wreck had been around for over three decades. The Ramblin’ Wreck fight song appeared almost as soon as the school opened, and it is not only American boys that grow up singing its rollicking tune, for Richard Nixon and Nikita Krushchev sang it when they met in Moscow in 1959.

The University of Maryland opened in 1856 as an agricultural school nine miles north of Washington, D.C., on land belonging to Charles Calvert, a descendant of Lord Baltimore, the state’s founding father. The school colors are the same as the state flag: black and gold for George Calvert (Lord Baltimore) and red and white for his mother, Alice Crossland.

Maryland has been called the school that Curley Byrd built, for he was its quarterback, then football coach, athletic director, assistant to the president, vice-president, and finally its president. Byrd also designed the football stadium and the campus layout, and suggested the nickname Terrapin, a local turtle known for its bite, when students wanted to replace the nickname Old Liners with a new one for the school.

The University of Miami was chartered in 1925 by a group of citizens who felt an institution of higher learning was needed for the development of their young and growing community. The South Florida land boom was at its peak, optimism flowed, and expectations were high. By the fall of 1926, when the first class of 560 students enrolled at the University, the land boom had collapsed, and hopes for a speedy recovery were dashed by a major hurricane. In the next 15 years the University barely kept afloat. The collapse in South Florida was a mere prelude to a national economic depression. Such were the beginnings of what has since become one of the nation's most distinguished private universities.

The University of North Carolina, located in Chapel Hill, has been called “the perfect college town,” making its tree-lined streets and balmy atmosphere what a college should look and feel like. Its inception in 1795 makes it one of the oldest schools in the nation, and its nickname of Tar Heels stems from the tar pitch and turpentine that were the state’s principal industry. The nickname is as old as the school, for it was born during the Revolutionary War when tar was dumped into the streams to impede the advance of British forces.

North Carolina State University is located in the state capital of Raleigh. It opened in 1889 as a land-grant agricultural and mechanical school and was known as A&M or Aggies or Farmers for over a quarter-century. The school’s colors of pink and blue were gone by 1895, brown and white were tried for a year, but the students finally chose red and white to represent the school. An unhappy fan in 1922 said State football players behaved like a pack of wolves, and the term that was coined in derision became a badge of honor.

The University of Virginia was founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson and is one of three things on his tombstone for which he wanted to be remembered. James Madison and James Monroe were on the board of governors in the early years. The Rotunda, a half-scale version of the Pantheon which faces the Lawn, is the focal point of the grounds as the campus is called. Jefferson wanted his school to educate leaders in practical affairs and public service, not just to train teachers.

Virginia Tech was established in 1872 as an all-male military school dedicated to the original land-grant mission of teaching agriculture and engineering. The University has grown from a small college of 132 students into the largest institution of higher education in the state during its 132-year history. Located in Southwest Virginia on a plateau between the Blue Ridge and Alleghany Mountains, the campus consists of 334 buildings and 20 miles of sidewalks over 2,600 acres. The official school colors - Chicago maroon and burnt orange - were selected in 1896 because they made a “unique combination” not worn elsewhere at the time.

Wake Forest University was started on Calvin Jones’ plantation amid the stately pine forest of Wake County in 1834. The Baptist seminary is still there, but the school was moved to Winston-Salem in 1956 on a site donated by Charles H. and Mary Reynolds Babcock. President Harry S. Truman attended the groundbreaking ceremonies that brought a picturesque campus of Georgian architecture and
painted roofs. Wake’s colors have been black and gold since 1895, thanks to a badge designed by student John Heck who died before he graduated.

School Affiliations

BOSTON COLLEGE -- Charter member of the Big East Conference in 1979; joined the ACC in July, 2005.

CLEMSON -- Charter member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1894, a charter member of the Southern Conference in 1921, a charter member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in 1953.

DUKE -- Joined the Southern Conference in December, 1928; charter member of the ACC in 1953.

FLORIDA STATE -- Charter member of the Dixie Conference in 1948; joined the Metro Conference in July, 1976; joined the ACC July, 1991.

GEORGIA TECH -- Charter member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1894, charter member of Southern Conference in 1921, charter member of the SEC in 1932, joined the ACC in April, 1978.

MARYLAND -- Charter member of the Southern Conference in 1921, charter member of the ACC in 1953.

MIAMI -- Charter member of the Big East Football Conference in 1991; joined the ACC in July, 2004.

NORTH CAROLINA -- Charter member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1894, charter member of the Southern Conference in 1921, charter member of the ACC in 1953.

NC STATE -- Charter member of the Southern Conference in 1921; charter member of the ACC in 1953.

VIRGINIA -- Charter member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1894, charter member of the Southern Conference in 1921, resigned from Southern Conference in December 1936, joined the ACC in December, 1953.

VIRGINIA TECH -- Charter member of the Southern Conference in 1921; withdrew from the Southern Conference in June, 1965; became a charter member of the Big East Football Conference in Feb. 5, 1991; joined the ACC in July, 2004.

WAKE FOREST -- Joined the Southern Conference in February, 1936, charter member of the ACC in 1953.

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History of the Atlantic Coast Conference