How the SEC Was Formed by Leaving a 23-Team Super Conference

Tennessee participated in the Southern Conference of 1921-32.

The Southern Conference, a super conference, consisted of 23 schools: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Duke, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, LSU, Maryland, Mississippi State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Ole Miss, Sewanee, South Carolina , Tennessee, Tulane, Vanderbilt, Virginia, VMI, VPI and Washington and Lee.

In 1932, 13 schools left the Southern Conference and formed their own conference.

13 Southern Conference members west and south of the Appalachians left to form the Southeastern Conference. Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Sewanee, Tennessee, Tulane, and Vanderbilt were the founding institutions of the newly formed Southeastern Conference.

The division to form the new conference was aimed in part at better athletic administration with fewer teams from the Southern Conference’s 23 schools. The Southern Conference also planned to increase admission requirements.

The Southeastern Conference was formed in Knoxville, Tennessee at the Andrew Johnson Hotel on December 8-9, 1932, at the annual Southern Conference banquet.

The Andrew Johnson Hotel in Knoxville, where the SEC was founded in December 1932. Photo by Dan Harralson, Vols Wire

Knoxville News-Sentinel (published as The Knoxville News-Sentinel) - Dec 10, 1932 b

Knoxville News-Sentinel (published as The Knoxville News-Sentinel) – Dec 10, 1932 b

Knoxville News-Sentinel – Dec 10, 1932

Knoxville News-Sentinel (published as The Knoxville News-Sentinel) - December 10, 1932

Knoxville News-Sentinel (published as The Knoxville News-Sentinel) – December 10, 1932

Knoxville News-Sentinel – Dec 10, 1932

dr. John J. Tigert, president of the University of Florida, spoke on behalf of the 13 institutions and formally presented his resignation at the meeting in Knoxville.

dr. Frank L. McVey, president of the University of Kentucky, was named SEC president, LSU’s JF Broussard was elected vice president, and Georgia Tech’s AH Armstrong was named secretary.

Knoxville News-Sentinel (published as The Knoxville News-Sentinel) - December 7, 1932

Knoxville News-Sentinel (published as The Knoxville News-Sentinel) – December 7, 1932

Knoxville News-Sentinel – December 7, 1932

Fordham

Fordham

The Daily News-Journal – December 17, 1932

Tennessee head coach Robert Neyland returned to Knoxville in time to attend conference meetings at the Andrew Johnson Hotel following the death of his mother in Greenville, Texas.

Neyland also turned down an offer to become Fordham head coach. He was approached by Fordham officials while attending the Army-Notre Dame game at Yankee Stadium, Nov. 26, 1932. Fordham was looking to replace Hall of Fame head coach Frank Cavanaugh after his senior season.

The Army-Notre Dame game was played on a Thursday two days after Tennessee defeated Kentucky 26-0. The Vols then ended the undefeated 1932 season by defeating Florida in Jacksonville on December 3, days before the Knoxville conference meetings.

Knoxville News-Sentinel (published as The Knoxville News-Sentinel) - November 25, 1932

Knoxville News-Sentinel (published as The Knoxville News-Sentinel) – November 25, 1932

Knoxville News-Sentinel – Nov 25, 1932

Rules for the presentation of athletics were central to the meetings. As a result of the Great Depression, game attendance for many schools began to decline, and many institutions and conferences banned radio broadcasting to allow more people to come to the games. That wasn’t a problem for the newly formed SEC, as the conference would lift a ban on broadcasting football games, along with allocating venues for athletic championships. Atlanta was named the host city for the SEC basketball tournament, while tennis and boxing were awarded to New Orleans. The annual writers’ meeting was awarded to Baton Rouge.

Julian Foster’s recovery from Vanderbilt was also a matter of debate after his ineligibility for the 1932 football season by the Southern Conference. Foster was ineligible after violating a summer baseball rule that prohibited playing in more than three games a week.

Knoxville News-Sentinel - Dec 10, 1932

Knoxville News-Sentinel – Dec 10, 1932

Knoxville News-Sentinel – Dec 10, 1932

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4662133520_IMG_7620

At the Andrew Johnson Hotel in Knoxville, where the SEC was founded. Photo by Dan Harralson, Vols Wire

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4701771184_IMG_7652

The Andrew Johnson Hotel in Knoxville, where the SEC was founded. Photo by Dan Harralson, Vols Wire

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