[Updated: 8/26/21] -- Celebrating its 46th year of operation in 2021-22, the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) is one of the nation's largest Division III conferences. The 15-member ODAC, including one associate member, stands as the third-largest multi-sport NCAA Division III conference in the country.
The league was formed on May 18, 1975, as the Virginia College Conference and began operations in September of 1976. (The name change to Old Dominion Athletic Conference became effective January 1, 1976). Charter members were eight colleges located in the state of Virginia: Bridgewater College, Eastern Mennonite College, Emory & Henry College, Hampden-Sydney College, Lynchburg College, Randolph-Macon College, Roanoke College, and Washington and Lee University.
From its initial year of operation through the 1981-82 academic year, the ODAC sponsored competition in 10 men's varsity sports including football, soccer, and cross country in the fall; basketball, wrestling, and indoor track and field in the winter; and baseball, golf, tennis, and outdoor track and field in the spring. Women's sports were added prior to the 1982-83 school year. Today, the ODAC has grown to sponsor championships in 24 sports (11 men and 13 women) and houses 12 full-time coeducational institutions with three single-gender schools making up the current 15 full-time members.
The conference expanded in the late 1980s, early 1990s and twice since 2012. Virginia Wesleyan became the 13th member of the conference in 1988 and began full-scale competition in the league in the 1989-90 academic year. Guilford College, voted into the conference in the spring of 1990, began competing for conference championships in the 1991-92 season. The Catholic University of America (DC) was accepted for associate membership in football on January 12, 1999, and ended its affiliation with the league following the 2016 season. Greensboro College and Notre Dame of Maryland University were voted into the conference in the sport of swimming, effective for the 2011-12 academic year. Notre Dame disbanded its swimming program prior to the 2016-17 season, leaving Greensboro and newest swimming associate, Ferrum College, as the lone part-time members of the conference. Shenandoah University became the 14th full-time member of the league in the summer of 2012, and began competing for conference championships in 2012-13. Ferrum saw its level of membership change as it became the ODAC’s 15th full-time member prior to the 2018-19 academic year. Beginning with the 2019-20 academic year, Southern Virginia University competed in the ODAC as an associate member in football for two seasons, exiting after the 2020-21 campaign concluded.
The latest membership change impacted one of the conference's charter members for the first time. Emory & Henry College ended its affiliation with the ODAC following the 2020-21 academic year after 45 years of membership. Emory & Henry is pursuing membership in NCAA Division II.
Over the past 29 years, the conference and the City of Salem, Va., have gained national attention through hosting NCAA Division III championships in baseball, men's and women's basketball, football, men's soccer, women's soccer, softball, women's lacrosse, and volleyball. The growing list of titles passed out in Salem began in the fall of 1993 with the DIII Football Championship. Through the 2020-21 academic year, the conference and city have hosted 75 NCAA Division III Championships since the '93 Stagg Bowl.
The ODAC is governed by a 14-member Presidential body consisting of all of the full-time members' CEOs. Bridgewater College President, Dr. David Bushman, is the chair of the ODAC Presidents' Council. In addition to presidential leadership, the conference's day-to-day operations are supervised by its Board of Directors, which consists of all conference member Directors of Athletics. Roanoke College Director of Athletics Scott Allison serves as the current Board President.
The conference office is located in Forest, Virginia at 16001 Suite B Forest Road.