Virginia-Based United States Collegiate Athletic Association Provides Sport Governance to Small College Athletic Programs

By Case, Robert | VAHPERD Journal, Spring 2013 | Go to article overview

Virginia-Based United States Collegiate Athletic Association Provides Sport Governance to Small College Athletic Programs


Case, Robert, VAHPERD Journal


Virginia has been the home to the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD), National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), and other sport and physical education national organizations for a number of years. Virginia is also home to a number of college athletic conferences that include the Atlantic 10, Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, Colonial Athletic Association, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. However, very few people know that Virginia is home to the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) which is a national governing body for small college athletic programs located in Newport News, Virginia.

Intercollegiate sport governance organizations have been around for over 100 years. In 1905-1906, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was established to help oversee college athletics in response to a number of football deaths (Coakley, 2009). In the early years, formulating athletic program compliance and player eligibility standards, standardization of playing rules, and developing codes of conduct were given top priority (Eitzen and Sage, 2009). Eventually, organizing tournaments and sport championships as well as providing publicity to teams and players (e.g., all conference teams, All-American players) became an important function of intercollegiate athletic governing bodies.

In an age when major college athletic programs are viewed from a big business perspective with many employees, multi-million dollar budgets, and expansive athletic facilities, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of the fundamental purpose of college athletics which is to offer educational and athletic opportunities to students. While some major college athletic programs seem to be caught in an "athletic arms race" where bigger is considered better, it is important to point out that on a national level the majority of college athletes do not compete at the NCAA Division I level. Instead, they compete at mid-sized and small college athletic programs located throughout the United States.

While small colleges offer fantastic academic programs and socialization opportunities for students, they often experience difficulty in publicizing

their athletic programs and athlete accomplishments due to limited resources. A number of small colleges want to compete in national tournaments and see their athletes receive national recognition and all-star honors. Membership in a national athletic association can provide the recognition, media exposure, and national competition opportunities that many small colleges desire.

The United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) helps to fill a void in intercollegiate athletics. The mission of the USCAA is to provide quality athletic competition at the regional and national levels for student-athletes who attend small colleges with enrollments of less than 1,500 students. The USCAA provides opportunities for small colleges to compete on an equal competitive basis with schools of similar size and athletic budgets. This includes conducting national championships, naming all-star teams, selecting All-American teams, honoring scholar athletes, providing compliance services, and overseeing eligibility standards for USCAA member schools. Members of the USCAA oftentimes have unique sport governance needs that can't be met completely through affiliation with the National Collegiate Athletic Association, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, or the National Christian College Athletic Association.

While the USCAA appears to be a young and emerging athletic governing body, it has a rich history dating back as far as 1966. It was on July 29 of that year when athletic directors from the Lake Erie (Ohio) Conference and the Eastern Shore Basketball League met in Charleston, West Virginia and started the National Little College Athletic Association (NLCAA). …

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