Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference

(also called IIAC or 'LITTLE NINETEEN')


History (from NCAA News, June 6, 1970 edition)


At one time the IIAC was a robust league that claimed most of the Illinois institutions of higher education. It was nicknamed the "Little Nineteen," but in 1928 had a membership of 23 schools.


Former Illinois State University track coach Joe Cogdal, associated with the IIAC for 43 years of its 62-year history, noted that the league had roots in the 1870’s when a number of schools banded together for oratorical contests. Their first intercollegiate football game was played in 1881 between Illinois State and Knox College, and by 1894 a football association was established.


The IIAC was formed in April, 1908, with eight charter members - Illinois State, Illinois Wesleyan, Bradley University, Millikin University, Monmouth University, Knox College, Lombard College and Illinois College. The first track meet was held on May 22, 1908. The group quickly expanded.  Eastern Illinois University and Western Illinois University joined in 1912 and 1915 respectively.


In 1920, the name 'Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference' was adopted - providing the initials IIAC. Conference membership reached a peak of 23 member schools in 1928, when virtually all of the small colleges in Illinois were included.


Private schools withdrew during much of the 1930’s, until in 1942 only the five state schools remained - Illinois State, Eastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University and Western Illinois University.


In 1950, the league name became the 'Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference', when Central Michigan University and Eastern Michigan University brought the membership to seven. In 1961, Eastern Michigan University and Southern Illinois University withdrew, Northern Illinois University followed in 1966.


The conference had only four commissioners, with the first being C.W. Whitten of the State High School Association, who served from 1928-32. He was followed by William T. Harmon of Illinois College, 1932-37; Clifford E. Horton of Illinois State, 1937-66, and Dempsey E. Reid of Western Illinois, 1966 to 1970.


The conference disbanded at the end of the 1969-1970 academic year.

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