Southwestern Athletic Conference

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SWAC logo.jpg

The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) is a 10-member collegiate athletic conference headquartered in the Dr James Frank Building at 1101 22nd Street South. The conference, which represents historically black institutions, sponsors interscholastic competition in 18 sports. The commissioner is Charles McClelland.

The conference was founded in 1920 in Houston, Texas. The original members were Bishop College, Paul Quinn College, Sam Huston College, Prairie View A&M, Texas College and Wiley College. Paul Quinn dropped out in 1929. Langston University joined in 1931, followed by Southern University in 1934 and Arkansas AM&N in 1936. The conference's annual football championship is held at Legion Field.

The next wave of changes came in the 1950s. Texas Southern joined in 1954. Bishop College left in 1956. Langston dropped out a year later. Grambling State and Jackson State joined in 1958, and Huston-Tillotson College (formerly Samuel Huston) dropped out in 1959. 1962 brought Alcorn State, but in 1968 Texas College and Wiley College left the conference while Mississippi Valley State joined. In 1970 Arkansas AM&N left. The league continued with seven member schools until the arrivals of Alabama State (1982), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (formerly Arkansas AM&N), 1997), and Alabama A&M (1999).

The conference moved its headquarters to the A. G. Gaston Building at 1527 5th Avenue North in Birmingham in 1999. Later they relocated to the Colonial Plaza at 2101 6th Avenue North. In 2020 the Conference purchased the former Pittman Financial Partners building on 22nd Street South. They renamed the building to honor former commissioner James Frank in 2023.

The conference is a member of the NCAA's "Football Championship Subdivision" (formerly Division 1-AA), but does not participate in the annual tournament. Instead it decided to split the conference into two divisions for football and to hold its own conference championship game each December at Legion Field. (The annual "Bayou Classic" between Southern and Grambling State and "Turkey Day Classic" between Alabama State and Tuskegee University are also scheduled after the start of the FCS tournament.)


  • Eastern Division
    • Alabama A&M University Bulldogs (Normal)
    • Alabama State University Hornets (Montgomery)
    • Alcorn State University Braves (Lorman, Mississippi)
    • Jackson State University Tigers (Jackson, Mississippi)
  • Western Division
    • University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions (Pine Bluff, Arkansas)
    • Grambling State University Tigers (Grambling, Louisiana)
    • Prairie View A&M University Panthers (Prairie View, Texas)
    • Southern University and A&M College Jaguars (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
    • Texas Southern University Tigers (Houston, Texas)



  • Perrin, Mike (January 8, 2008) "Sharp takes over with plans to keep SWAC on track." The Birmingham News
  • Van der Bijl, Hanno (February 26, 2020) "The SWAC to relocate HQ to Southside." Birmingham Business Journal
  • Sager, Julia (July 7, 2023) "Birmingham SWAC headquarters named to honor former commissioner." Bham Now

External links