Southwestern University Athletics History

Southwestern University has an illustrious history in intercollegiate athletics beginning with the first intercollegiate baseball game in the state of Texas on April 21, 1884, when Southwestern defeated the University of Texas, 52-12.

Southwestern continued to compete in baseball and added football in 1895, but officially entered intercollegiate athletics in 1908 and was a charter member of the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association (TIAA), later becoming the Southwest Conference, competing from 1914-1927.

SU had relative success in the conference, winning two conference championships, one in baseball (1918) and one in football (1925). By the end of their time in the TIAA the Pirates had added men’s tennis and men’s basketball as conference sports.

In 1926-27 Southwestern left the TIAA to join the Texas Conference, starting that first year off on a high note with a 1927 conference championships in football and track & field. While in the Texas Conference, Southwestern had the first football team to win back-to-back Sun Bowl Championships. SU defeated the University of New Mexico 7-0 in 1944 and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) (National Autonomous University of Mexico) from Mexico City 35-0 in 1945. The 1945 contest is the only time an American football game has included a team from outside the United States.

It was also during the Texas Conference years that Southwestern disbanded the football program. Following the completion of World War II, Southwestern transitioned to a small liberal arts institution by dropping post-graduate degrees. In 1950, the Pirate football team took the field for the final time and posted a 5-5 record.

While the men’s teams (baseball, tennis, golf, basketball) competed in the Texas Conference the women were competing in the TAIAW from 1973-1981 with teams in tennis, volleyball, and basketball. 

Southwestern athletics departed from the Texas Conference six years later, joining the Big State Conference in 1956, the women joining the ranks in 1981, and remained in the conference until 1983; at which point the men and women became a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) member, competing independently for nine years.

The Pirates became a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III school for the 1992-1993 academic year, going from six sports to 12 by adding men’s and women’s soccer, women’s golf and track & field and reviving the women’s tennis and men’s track & field teams. SU joined the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference in 1993 and competed within the conference beginning in the fall of 1994. Since that time the Pirates have aided the SCAC in becoming one of the most well-recognized and well-respected conferences in the nation.

Southwestern’s athletic department continues to grow as they added men’s and women’s swimming & diving in 1998. Next came softball in 2008 with their first year of competition being in the spring of 2009 followed by men’s lacrosse in 2009 with their first season of competition in spring 2010, building off of their successful club programs.

In the fall of 2011, Southwestern announced plans to reinstate the football program and begin women’s lacrosse for the 2013-2014 school year.

Sport
(1st year of official intercollegiate competition)

Conference affiliation

Years in conference

Club Sport
(Year Began) 

Baseball (1908)

Varsity Sport

1903-1914

Yes (1884)

 

T.I.A.A.

1914-1927

 
 

Texas Conference

1927-1956

 
 

Big State Conference

1956-1983

 
 

NAIA District 4 Independent

1983-1992

 
 

NCAA Division III Independent

1992-1993

 
 

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

1993-present

 

Men’s Basketball (1910)

Varsity Sport

1910-1923

Yes (1903)

 

T.I.A.A.

1923-1927

 
 

Texas Conference

1927-1956

 
 

Big State Conference

1956-1983

 
 

NAIA District 4 Independent

1983-1992

 
 

NCAA Division III Independent

1992-1993

 
 

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

1994-present

 

Women’s Basketball (1976)

TAIAW

1976-1981

Yes (1903)

 

Big State Conference

1982-1983

 
 

NAIA District 4 Independent

1983-1992

 
 

NCAA Division III Independent

1992-1993

 
 

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

1993-present

 

Men’s Cross Country (1993)

NCAA Division III Independent

1992-1993

No

 

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

1993-present

 

Women’s Cross Country (1993)

NCAA Division III Independent

1992-1993

No

 

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

1993-present

 

Football (1908)

Varsity Sport

1908-1914

Yes (1895)

 

TIAA

1914-1927

 
 

Texas Conference

1927-1956

 

Men’s Golf (1932)

Texas Conference

1932-1956

No

 

Big State Conference

1956-1983

 
 

NAIA District 4 Independent

1983-1992

 
 

NCAA Division III Independent

1992-1993

 
 

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

1994-present

 

Women’s Golf (1933)

Sporadic Individual Competition

1933-1992

No

 

NCAA Division III Independent

1992-1993

 
 

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

1994-present

 

Lacrosse (2010)

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

2010-present

Yes  (1985)

Men’s Soccer (1992)

NCAA Division III Independent

1992-1993

 Yes (1989)
 

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

1994-present

 

Women’s Soccer (1992)

NCAA Division III Independent

1992-1993

 Yes (1989)
 

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

1994-present

 

Softball (2009)

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

2009-present

Yes (1995-03)

Men’s Swimming (1998)

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

1998-present

Yes (1995-96)

Women’s Swimming (1998)

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

1998-present

Yes (1995-96)

Men’s Tennis (1923)

T.I.A.A.

1923-1927

Yes (1903)

 

Texas Conference

1927-1956

 
 

Big State Conference

1956-1983

 
 

NAIA District 4 Independent

1983-1992

 
 

NCAA Division III Independent

1992-1993

 
 

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

1993-present

 

Women’s Tennis (1973)

TAIAW

1973-1981

Yes (1903)

           Individual Competition (1965)

Big State Conference

1981-1992

 
 

NCAA Division III Independent

1992-1993

 
 

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

1993-present

 

Men’s Track & Field (1908)

Varsity Sport

1903-1927

Yes (1903)

 

Texas Conference

1927-1956

 
 

Big State Conference

1956-1983

 
 

NAIA District 4 Independent

1983-1992

 
 

NCAA Division III Independent

1992-1993

 
 

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

1993-present

 

Women’s Track & Field (1992)

NCAA Division III Independent

1992-1995

Yes (1903)

 

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

1995-present

 

Volleyball (1974)

TAIAW

1974-1981

No

 

Big State Conference

1981-1993

 
 

NAIA District 4 Independent

1983-1992

 
 

NCAA Division III Independent

1992-1993

 
 

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

1994-present