History of Catawba Athletics

Updated 3/25/13: As with all historical documents not all information is complete or found in one source. Catawba Sports Information will work hard to update, grow and expand this page but we would appreciate your help. If you have a story, pictures or corrections to the information below please contact Jim Lewis. All information will be researched and validated before adding to this page. Created by Brett Howe (Catawba '13).

Conference Affiliations

  • Little Six (Prior to 1930)
  • North State Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (1930-1960)
  • Carolinas Intercollegiate Athletic Conference(1961-1988)
  • Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (1971-1981)
  • South Atlantic Conference (Football only) (1975)
  • NAIA SAC (1989)
  • SAC (all sports) (1989-present)

“The Little Six”
Catawba College has a long and storied history of its conference alignments in athletics. Its earliest assignment was in the North State Athletic Conference also known as “The Little Six”. This conference featured charter member teams like Lenoir-Rhyne, Atlantic Christian, Guilford, Catawba, Elon, and High Point.

The North State Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
The North State Intercollegiate Athletic Conference was formed when the six schools and new member Appalachian, decided to separate from the North Carolina Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in 1930. Catawba participated in this conference from 1930-1960, winning 34 conference titles.

Carolinas Conference
After the 1960 season, Catawba and the other members of NSAC now participated under a new banner of the Carolinas Conference. During this time period, the Carolinas Conference saw periods of expansion and loss with the additions of “Western Carolina became a member in 1933, East Carolina in 1947, Pfeiffer in 1960, Newberry in 1961, and Presbyterian in 1964, followed closely by Mars Hill” (CC) and the losses of “East Carolina resigned in 1962 to join the Southern Conference and Appalachian and Western Carolina followed. Football sponsorship in the Carolinas Conference was dropped in 1973 when Lenoir-Rhyne, Newberry, Presbyterian, and Mars Hill joined the South Atlantic Conference” (CC).

Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women
From 1971-1981, women's sports at Catawba were played in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. AIAW was formed to give women athletes the ability to compete at a high level. Before this, women's athletics were run by the Women's Athletic Association which ran club teams for the women to play on.

South Atlantic Conference
Catawba joined the South Atlantic Conference for football only in 1975. The SAC-8, as it was known, consisted of Carson-Newman, Catawba, Elon, Gardner-Webb, Lenoir-Rhyne, Mars Hill, Newberry, and Presbyterian. In 1989, Catawba left Conference Carolinas to join the SAC, which became a multisport conference. The league was ineligible for NCAA postseason play for several seasons and kept its National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) status. In 1993-1994, the SAC became NCAA sanctioned and now offers 20 championship sports. The SAC now consists of “Anderson University in Anderson, S.C.; Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tenn.; Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C.; Coker College in Hartsville, S.C.; Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, N.C.; Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn.; Mars Hill University in Mars Hill, N.C.; Newberry College in Newberry, S.C.; Queens University of Charlotte, N.C.; Tusculum University in Greeneville, Tenn.; and Wingate University in Wingate, N.C.” Limestone is a football only member of the league and UVA-Wise will join the league in 2019-20.

Conference Carolinas History:
South Atlantic Conference History:


Historic Timeline

  • 1851: Catawba College opens in Newton, NC


  • 1911: Hiatus of schools athletics due to lack of competition and movement from Newton to Salisbury


  • 1922: Athletics resume at Catawba
  • 1923: Campus at Newton Closes
  • 1925: Catawba College re-opens in Salisbury, NC
  • 1927: Track begins its first year of competition
  • 1929: Men's tennis competes in its first season


  • 1930: Catawba and six other schools form the North State Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
  • 1931: Baseball wins their first conference championship
  • 1931: Men's soccer is the 1st school in the state to have a team
  • 1931: Men's basketball wins their first conference championship
  • 1931: Men's tennis wins first conference championship as a 2nd year program
  • 1932: Football wins their first conference championship
  • 1932: Field Hockey is one of the first sports offered under the Women's Athletic Association
  • 1933: Soccer wins their first conference championship
  • 1938: Men's track wins first conference championship
  • 1939: Men's golf competes in their first season and wins a conference championship
  • 1939: Men's soccer is postponed


  • 1943: No football due to World War II
  • 1944: Baseball only plays seven games due to World War II but wins a conference championship with a 3-4 record going 1-1 in conference
  • 1946: Football compiles a 10-2 record; the 1946 Indians secured victories over Lenoir-Rhyne, Newberry, and Guilford while also holding opponents to 67 points the whole year. They recorded six shutouts including a 31-0rout over Maryville College (TN) in the first ever Tangerine Bowl.
  • 1947: Besting the previous year's team, the Indians football team secured an 11-1 season, the best at Catawba for that time. The team's only loss came to the Keydets of Virginia Military Institute in a hard fought 6-13 battle.The team recorded ten shutouts and outscored opponents 263-27. They won their second consecutive Tangerine Bowl beating Marshall University 7-0.
  • 1949: Men's golf wins last of four conference championships from 1939-1949


  • 1960: North State Intercollegiate Athletic Conference becomes the Carolinas Conference
  • 1968: Field Hockey becomes a NCAA sanctioned sport


  • 1971: Women participate in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women
  • 1971: Wrestling is added to Catawba athletics
  • 1971: Women's tennis wins its first conference title
  • 1974: Women's basketball wins the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women state championship
  • 1975: Catawba joins the South Atlantic Conference for football only
  • 1975: Soccer resumes


  • 1982: Women now participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association
  • 1982: Men's Basketball wins the NAIA District 26 championship
  • 1984: Wrestling is dropped from athletics
  • 1987: Track dropped after 60 years at Catawba
  • 1988: Volleyball wins their first conference championship
  • 1989: After leaving Conference Carolinas, Catawba officially joins the South Atlantic Conference in all sports


  • 1990: The South Atlantic Conference becomes a NCAA recognized conference
  • 1993: Women's soccer wins their first conference championships, both regular season and tournament
  • 1994: Cross Country, Men's Lacrosse, and Women's Swimming all begin competition at Catawba
  • 1995: Men's golf team qualifies for the NCAA national tournament
  • 1997: Women's soccer wins their conference tournament and earns a birth in the regional tournament also winning that


  • 2000: While going 11-1 and undefeated in the SAC, Catawba football wins the SAC and qualifies for the NCAA tournament. Their only loss of the year comes to eventual national champion Delta State by a score of 14-20, in the NCAA national tournament. Outscoring opponents 367-127, the Indians use a high power offense, scoring over 21 points nine times, to overwhelm opponents.
  • 2000: Women's golf begins their first season
  • 2001: Similar to the previous season, the Indians football team compiles an 11-2 record going 6-1 in the SAC. The team qualifies for the national tournament for the second year in a row beating Valdosta State in the first round and losing to eventual runner up Grand Valley State in the next round. Using a similar game plan as the 2000 team, Catawba outscored opponents 424- 211, recording four shutouts.
  • 2004: Cross Country's Ryan Willis participates in NCAA nationals for third straight year
  • 2006: Women's golf wins a conference championship, while Paige Haverty qualifies for the NCAA regional. Paige Haverty wins fourth consecutive SAC Player of the Year Award (named 20th moment in SAC conference history [Dec. 12th, 2012])
  • 2007: The 2007 version of Catawba football is one of the most successful in school history. The team compiles an 11-2 overall record and a 6-1 record in the SAC. Outscoring opponents 578-278, the Indians score over 21 points in every game and even record 66 in a 66-35 win over Albany State in the first round of the Division II national tournament. After winning the conference, the team moved on to the national tournament beating previously mentioned Albany State and losing to eventual national champion Valdosta State 29-55.
  • 2007: Men's swimming competes in its first season
  • 2009: Women's Golf's Kelsey Babos qualifies for the NCAA regional and national tournaments
  • 2009: Field Hockey is dropped after the 2009 season


  • 2012: Catawba adds Women's Lacrosse
  • 2012: Catawba Baseball wins the Southeast Regional Championship and advances to the Division II National Finals. The team compiled a 45-17 record on their way to finishing fourth in the nation.
  • 2015 Catawba Baseball claims its second regional title and advances to the National Finals Championship Game, finishing runner-up in NCAA II. Craig Brooks was named the Division II National Pitcher of the Year and Will Albertson was National Position Player of the Year.
  • 2017 Catawba adds the sports of men's and women's indoor and outdoor track & field.

Football at Catawba College has a long and storied history. Dating back to 1906, Catawba has fielded teams since its days in Newton, North Carolina. The Indians have participated in football for 107 years only taking breaks from 1912-1921, for numerous reasons, 1923-1924, because of the move from Newton to Salisbury, and in 1943, because of World War II. In this 100 year span Catawba has played against teams like Virginia Polytechnic Institute (now known as Virginia Tech), Marshall University, and Georgia-Southern, while also playing common foes like Mars-Hill, Newberry, and Lenoir-Rhyne. 

Baseball has been a mainstay at Catawba since the beginning of athletics when the college was located at Newton. Being one of the original sports, baseball has seen its share of success. They won their first conference championship in 1931, and have continued the winning tradition with solid teams in the 40s and as one of the school's most successful programs in the 2000s. Current coach Jim Gantt is the winningest coach in South Atlantic Conference history.

Softball won several conference championships as a slow pitch program in the late 80s. When joining the SAC, Catawba moved to fast pitch play and won its first conference title in 2015 when it claimed the SAC Tournament Championship. Catawba Hall of Fame Coach. Nan Whitley, guided the team from its beginnings through the 2018 season.

Men's Basketball
Along with football and baseball, men's basketball has also been one of the original sports at Catawba College. Two of the most successful eras came under coaches Sam Moir and Jim Baker. Moir Led the Indians from 1960-1994 and compiled a record of 546-399 while winning seven conference championships. Before the 2002 season, the court in Goodman Gymnasium was named after Coach Moir for his dedication and success at Catawba. Coach Jim Baker, who played for Coach Moir from 1975-1978, followed Moir and led the Indians to a dozen league championships and nine NCAA II Regional appearances.

Women's Basketball
Beginning with the 1968 season, Coach Pat Whitley, ran the new NCAA sanctioned program women's basketball program after it had been under the direction of the Women's Athletic Association (WAA). The first highlight of the program was the Class B State Championship it won in 1973-74. Gary Peters led Catawba to its first conference title at the 1993 SAC Tournament and the team went on to claim the district title and advanced to the NAIA National Tournament. The team enjoyed a stretch of three conference titles over a four-year span during the tenures of John Duncan and Angie Morton (class of '84).

Men's Soccer
Men's soccer is another sport with a long history at Catawba. A dream of the student body in 1930 turned into a reality when the school established a team in 1931, it was the first college in the state of North Carolina to have an organized team. The team achieved early success winning a conference championship in 1933, but the Indians had to wait 51 years until their next championship. From 1930-1938, Catawba fielded soccer teams, but there was no team again until 1975. Since 1975, the Indians have enjoyed much success including a ten year span (1984-1994) where Catawba won seven conference titles. They won three more from 1996-1998 and added another in 2001. The Indians have also enjoyed much individual success with numerous all-conference and all-americans.

Women's Soccer
Catawba began the sport in 1990. The Lady Indians won a regular season conference championships within four years and was one of the more dominate team in the region during the late 1990s.

Volleyball was first sponsored in 1971. The Lady Indians appeared in the NAIA National Tournament in 1989 and advanced to the NCAA II Regional final in 2008. From 1988-1991 the volleyball team enjoyed much success winning two conference regular season championships, two conference tournament championships. Under the leadership of Coach Ginger Hamric, Catawba made three NCAA regional appearances over a four-year span from 2008-11.

Men's Golf
The earliest records of men's golf at Catawba date back to 1939. In the 74 year span the Indians have accumulated nine conference championships. This success was capped off by the 1995 team that qualified for the NCAA national tournament. Players that have attributed to this success include Nick Sabol who was an all-american in 1995 & 1998, Todd Sapere who was also an all-american in 1997. Finally, the team has had four individual qualifiers for the individual national tournament as well.

Women's Golf
Begun during the 1999-2000 season, the lady Indians took to the links in their first year of competition. During this thirteen year span, the women's golf team has produced two all-americans, Paige Haverty (2005-2006) and Kelsey Babos (2008-2009). These two also qualified for the NCAA individual tournament along with Kristen Kyle.

Men's Tennis
Men's tennis is another of the original sports at Catawba that dates back to the move to Salisbury. The team began play in 1929 and achieved much success in its early years. The men dominated the 1930s winning conference titles in 1931, 1933, 1934, and 1939. Seven years later they went on to win another conference title. Their last conference championship occurred in 2001 when they won the South Atlantic Conference tournament.

Women's Tennis
History still being researched

Men's Swimming
Beginning in the 2006-2007 season the men's swimming team entered its first season in competition at Catawba. Over this short period the team has experience some success with numerous all-Blue Mountain Conference performers and a NCAA national participant in 2009 & 2010, Patrick Drakes.

Women's Swimming
Women's swimming began in the 1993-1994 season and competes in the Blue Mountain Conference. The team has enjoyed success of having numerous all-conference performers and a NCAA national participant Melissa Schiffel in 2000.

Cross Country
Beginning in 1994 cross country became a successful sport at Catawba for both men and women. The teams have seen their share of success with numerous all-conference selections.

Men's Lacrosse
One of the most recent sports added to Catawba, men's lacrosse has become a successful squad over the past few years. Begun in 1994 by Coach Peter Bourque, the Indians have compiled a record of 111-155 winning one regular season Deep South Conference championship and two DSC tournament championships. Over this twenty year span the team has accumulated numerous all-conference selections and eight all-americans.

Women's Lacrosse
Women's lacrosse played its first game on February 18th, 2012 against Lenoir-Rhyne. The lady Indians won their first game 18-17 against the Bobcats of Lees-McRae later that season.

Track and Field
Track at Catawba was one of the schools most successful sports. Beginning in 1927, the track team was highly successful winning nine conference championships including a four championships in a five year span from 1964-1968. The program was dropped after the 1987 season. Catawba reinstated the men's outdoor program in 2017-18 and was joined by the first outdoor women's team and the first indoor teams for men and women.


Field Hockey
One of the original sports offered on Catawba's campus, field hockey had a long history at Catawba. First featured in the 1932 yearbook, field hockey was offered under the umbrella of the Women's Athletic Association. Then, in 1968 field hockey became a sanctioned NCAA sport. The lady Indians won eight consecutive conference championships from 1964-1971 and won their final in 1988. The program completed their final season in the fall of 2009.

The sport came to Catawba in 1971. The team had lots of individual success with numerous grapplers named all-conference. The sport was dropped after the 1983-1984 season.

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