It’s Football Season: Time to Read about the Southwest Athletic Conference Records!

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These figurines are actually whiskey bottles molded to resemble the mascots of former Southwest Athletic Conference schools. From left to right: back row: the University of Texas Longhorns, Southern Methodist University Mustangs, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Christian University Horned Frogs. Center row: Rice University Owls, University of Arkansas Razorbacks, and Baylor University Bears. Front row: University of Houston Cougars and Texas Tech University Red Raiders.>

NCAA universities throughout the U.S. are now deep into 2013’s football season. The Southwest Collection has close ties with this yearly phenomenon, as well as all other NCAA sports, by virtue of being the archive of record for the now-disbanded Southwest Athletic Conference (SWC). Former SWC teams now populate the Big 12 Conference, Southeastern Conference, and others.

On May 6, 1914, several universities’ representatives met to discuss the future of regional sports among local schools. Baylor University, Southwestern University, Texas A&M College, Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University), Louisiana State University, the University of Texas, and the University of Arkansas participated. That December, representatives from the Rice Institute (now Rice University) and the University of Oklahoma also met with the group at the Rice Hotel in Houston. With the exception of Louisiana State, all participants became charter members of the Southwest Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

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The Southwest Conference Records contains programs and pre-season guides for all sports. Most numerous are football Roster & Record books like these.

The SWC saw ten universities join or leave their league during its over 80 year run. Rice left for a short spell from 1916-1917. Southern Methodist University joined in 1918, Texas Christian University hopped on in 1923, Texas Tech University joined in 1958, and the University of Houston signed up in 1972. Southwestern left in 1917, Oklahoma dropped out in 1920, Oklahoma A&M departed in 1926, and the University of Arkansas left in 1991. For one year, 1920, Phillips University of Enid, Oklahoma, was a member of the conference.

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Southwest Conference football teams have appeared in numerous bowls, most frequently the Cotton Bowl. Above are commemorative artifacts from some of those games, most notably a clock celebrating 1988 Cotton Bowl between Texas A&M and Notre Dame.>

It was not until 1938 that the SWC would elect an Executive Secretary (later renamed Commissioner in 1982.) Dr. P. W. St. Clair served from 1938-1945 as a part-time employee. Others who served were the following: James H. Stewart (1945-1950), Howard Grubbs (1950-1973), Cliff Speegle (1973-1982), Fred Jacoby (1982-1993), Steve Hatchell (1993-1995), and finally Kyle Kallander (1995-1996).

The Southwest Conference also spawned such sports legends as Carl Lewis (track), Doak Walker (football), Sheryl Swoopes (women’s basketball), Darrell Royal (football, coach), Teddy Lyons (baseball), Earl Campbell (football), and Andre Ware (football) to name only a few.

So what SWC records does the Southwest Collection have? Over 300 linear feet of material! There are boxes full of day-to-day business records such correspondence, memoranda, financial materials, and memorabilia. Among its copious printed material are media guides, game programs, news clippings, and record books from each of the member universities. But that’s not all: included are 343 sound recordings, 854 video tapes, 10 reels of microfilm, 538 oversized items, and 12 linear feet of photographic material. Oral histories of numerous individuals involved with the Conference are also available.

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This is the memo sent to all Southwest Athletic Conference university presidents regarding the dissolution of the Conference 1996.

Sadly, on June 30, 1996, the Southwest Athletic Conference disbanded. Its teams departed for other conferences such as the Big 12…the records of which the Southwest Collection also houses!

But that’s a story for a future blog…

By Robert Weaver
Photos by John Perrin

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One thought on “It’s Football Season: Time to Read about the Southwest Athletic Conference Records!

  1. Pingback: The National College Baseball Hall of Fame and the Southwest Collection | Southwest Collection Archive

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