HistoryThe idea for the NJCAA was conceived in 1937 at Fresno, California. A handful of junior college representatives met to organize an association that would promote and supervise a national program of junior college sports and activities consistent with the educational objectives of junior colleges.
The constitution presented at the charter meeting in Fresno on May 14, 1938, was accepted and the National Junior College Athletic Association became a functioning organization.
Colleges represented at the charter meeting were Bakersfield, Chaffey, Compton, Fullerton, Glendale, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernadino, San Mateo, Santa Monica, and Visalia.
The initial activity sponsored by the NJCAA was track and field. Sacramento played host to the first National Junior College Track and Field Meet in 1939, which started a series of annual meets, unbroken except for three years during World War II. While the first meet drew only California schools, the second, in Modesto, in 1940, assumed a wider scope with participants from Phoenix, Arizona and Trinidad, Colorado, in addition to the Californians.
While founded by California men, there was no intention for the NJCAA to be just a "West Coast Organization". This became apparent when Trinidad College's invitation to sponsor the 1941 Track meet at Denver, Colorado, was accepted.
The NJCAA was fast gaining national recognition. At the 1941 meet in Denver, teams representing colleges from east of the Mississippi, joined southern and west coast members.
After Pearl Harbor, only one more meet was held during the war years. This was staged at Visalia, California, and was the last sponsored activity by the NJCAA until the spring of 1946 when the fifth National Junior College Track and Field Meet was held at Phoenix, Arizona.
In 1945, the NJCAA, weakened by the war and not yet ready to renew activities, had given its blessings to an invitational basketball tournament at Compton. The tournament mushroomed into a national activity by 1947, with teams participating from as far away as Washington and Louisiana. Other schools from the Great Lakes area, the middle west, and the east coast clamored for invitations that could not be provided. Clearly, a nationwide basketball program, sponsored by the NJCAA, was a necessity.
Compton invited the NJCAA to call a special meeting in connection with its 1947 tournament, to consider a national basketball program, from which grew the present regional and national tourney plan.
Attempts were made to carry on this extensive program of national competition, but lack of entries and financial hardships caused the curtailment of golf, tennis, boxing, gymnastics, and swimming after a three year trial. However, these events could be conducted at anytime in the future when requests from five or more regions were filed.
In 1949, the NJCAA was reorganized by dividing the nation into sixteen regions. The officers of the association were the president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, public relations director, and the sixteen regional vice presidents. The NJCAA Bulletin was authorized and published as the official organ of the Association. Among other official acts, policies for conducting regional and national events were written, the constitution was revised, the organization was incorporated as a non-profit corporation, and the first NJCAA Handbook was published. This booklet gave status and stability to the organization that it had lacked in previous years.
Hutchinson, Kansas, became the site for the NJCAA Championship Basketball Tournament. Co-sponsors, the Lysle Rishel Post, American Legion, and the Hutchinson Junior College hosted this event in 1949.
The growth of the organization and the work of the committees outmoded the 1950 Handbook, necessitating a second edition in 1952.
The NJCAA, working with the American Association of Junior Colleges Sub Committee on Athletics, wrote and adopted the "Statement of Guiding Principles for Conducting Junior College Athletics" in 1953. The Statistics Bureau, at this time was concerned with regional and national records only. In 1954, it expanded its scope to include individual and team scores of all member colleges.
Steps were taken to obtain low cost and reliable insurance for the NJCAA members. The Insurance Committee was responsible for obtaining the NJCAA Insurance Plan from the Associated Agencies. The plan, as adopted, covered major and catastrophic accidents with a minimum cost to each member school.
The NJCAA obtained representation on various national rules committees during 1954. Also, the name, NJCAA BULLETIN, was changed to the JUCO REVIEW.
The Statistics Bureau became the Service Bureau in 1955 and began to compile and release weekly ratings of member college basketball teams. For the first time, the official All-American Junior College Basketball Teams were selected by the Bureau. Previous to this time, the All-Region and All-NJCAA tournament teams were considered to be the All-American Teams.
The important contributions to the NJCAA program in 1956 included the addition of football statistics and rankings to the Service Bureau program. The adoption of policies for conducting the National Football Championship and awarding the contract to the West Hollywood Kiwanis Club was culminated in the initial game played at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Coffeyville, Kansas, defeated Grand Rapids, Michigan, for this first NJCAA Football Championship.
In 1957 another important step was taken by the NJCAA. An affiliation with the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations (NFSHSAA), and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) was formed to work together on many common interests. The primary emphasis, in the initial state, was placed on jointly producing playing rules in football, six-man football, soccer and baseball, and the continued use of common codes in basketball, track and other major sports. This affiliation was christened the National Alliance.
By 1958, the scope of the NJCAA had been recognized by other national organizations and the association was asked to participate in various national projects. These included (1) the People to People Sports Committee, a foundation to promote international goodwill through sports, (2) President Eisenhower's Physical Fitness Commission, (3) a study on equipment and supplies for physical education, athletics and recreation, sponsored by the Athletic Institute and the American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation, and (4) the publication for the first edition of the Blue Book of Junior College Athletics by McNitt, Inc.
Baseball entered the national program during this year when the NJCAA Invitational Tournament was held at Northeastern Oklahoma A & M College, Miami, Oklahoma.
The legislative assembly of 1959 approved a National Championship Baseball Tournament, with the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce and Mesa College of Grand Junction Colorado, as the first co- sponsors of the event. Authorization was also granted to conduct National Invitational tournaments in golf, tennis, wrestling and cross country. Odessa, Texas; Rochester, Minnesota; Farmingdale, New York; and Alfred, New York, were chosen as the sites for these events.
National Invitational Meets in swimming and rifle were sanctioned in 1960. These and other recent additions to the national program pointed to a need for a revised handbook. Money was allocated for its printing in 1961.
In addition to the printing and distribution of the new handbook in 1961, the JUCO REVIEW publication site was changed from Ogden, Utah, to Buffalo, New York. A newspaper known as "Junior College Sports" was published in Grand Junction, Colorado, and the NJCAA played an important supporting role in this new venture. The year 1961 was also the first NJCAA Invitational Soccer Tournament in Middletown, New York.
All-American awards in soccer were approved by the 1962 legislative assembly. This year marked the entrance of the NJCAA into the Basketball Federation of the United States of America, the United States Gymnastics Federation and the United States Track and Field Federation.
In 1963, the NJCAA became a member of the United States Olympic Committee and was granted ten (10) votes on the committee and one representative on the forty-six (46) member Board of Directors. Representation on the NCAA Rules Committee in Track and Field, Wrestling, and Basketball was obtained during this period.
An agreement was reached with the Alee Shrine Temple of Savannah, Georgia to bring the NJCAA Championship Football Game back into the national program in 1964 after a lapse of four years. This game was named the NJCAA Shrine Bowl.
The Chamber of Commerce and Mesa College of Grand Junction, Colorado were awarded a new five-year contract in 1965 to conduct the NJCAA Championship Baseball Tournament. Also, in 1965, the NJCAA was given a voice on various U.S. Olympic Games Committees and our representatives were active in formulating plans for their sports in the overall Olympic program.
The rapid growth of wrestling in the junior colleges and the resulting increase in the number of teams coming to the National Invitational Wrestling Tournament warranted the establishment of a national championship event in this sport in 1966.
Negotiations were completed for two post-season football games. One sponsored by the Southwest Grid Classic, Inc., was called the Wool Bowl, and was played at Roswell, New Mexico. The second, named the Silver Bowl, was sponsored by Sterling College and the Sterling Rotary Club in Sterling, Kansas. Both bowl games were played for the first time in the Fall of 1966. This same year a new ten year contract was closed with the Lysle Rishel Post 68, American Legion, and Hutchinson Community Junior College of Hutchinson, Kansas, to continue to conduct the NJCAA Basketball Tournament at its present site.
The American Medical Association Committee on the Medical Aspects of Sports invited the organization to participate in their activities in this field. Also a liaison committee between the AAJC and the NJCAA was formed .
The year 1967-68 was one of many changes in the NJCAA. Membership stood at 391 colleges. The 1967 legislative assembly approved a grant-in-aid to Michael Mould, Keystone Junior College, LaPlume, Pennsylvania, to write a complete history of the NJCAA to fulfill a requirement for the completion of his doctorate degree at Springfield College, Springfield, Massachusetts.
In 1968 the legislative assembly reorganized the administrative structure for the 16 regions established in 1949 to 19 regions. This was accomplished by dividing Region VIII, Region I, and Region XV to form three new regions. Membership had now reached 419 colleges.
The NJCAA, for the first time, conducted its own Olympic Trials in basketball. A squad of ten players competed in the final trials in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Athletes of member colleges also competed in Olympic Trials for wrestling and track and field.
A third post-season football game, sponsored by the El Toro Foundation of Yuma, Arizona, was added to the football program. Called the El Toro Bowl, its first competition came in 1968.
Membership in the United States Collegiate Sports Council, the United States Baseball Federation and the United States Wrestling Federation were accepted by the NJCAA in 1968, and a National Invitational Gymnastics Meet was added to the program.
In 1969 the appointment of George E. Killian as full-time Executive Director was approved by the legislative assembly, and the new office was officially opened August l, 1969, in the Hilton Inn, Hutchinson, Kansas.
At the time of the 1970 legislative assembly, membership had increased to 476 colleges. A National Invitational Bowling Tournament was added to the program. Also, a Scholarship and Grant-in-Aid Committee was established to study existing practices and to make recommendations for future appropriate actions.
Two post-season football games, the Mid-American JUCO Bowl and the Green Country Shrine Bowl were added in 1971, along with National Invitational Championships in Ice Hockey and Judo. The membership reached an all time high of 501 members.
The year 1972 saw the addition of decathlon, fencing, and indoor track to the growing Invitational Championship scene. The Championship football game was moved to Yuma, Arizona, from Savannah, Georgia, and became known as the Sunkist El Toro Bowl. The membership climbed to 513 members for the 1971-72 college year.
In 1973 the legislative assembly reorganized the administrative structure from 19 regions, established in 1968, to 21 regions. This was accomplished by dividing Region III and Region XIX to form two new regions. Membership reached a record 533.
1974 saw the addition of the three invitational championships in volleyball, basketball, and tennis for women. The Men's Division began hosting a National Invitational Marathon Championship. The NJCAA "amateur rule" was completely rewritten by the Board of Directors. Membership climbed to a record high of 547.
A major change in the structure of the NJCAA occurred in 1975 when the Board of Directors approved a Women's Division. National Championships for women were approved in volleyball, basketball and tennis. National Invitational Championships for women were slated in field hockey, skiing, gymnastics, track and field, softball, and swimming and diving. Membership climbed to a record 563.
The year 1976 saw the membership of the NJCAA reach 296 for its Women's Division and 586 for its Men's Division. The Board of Directors reorganized the administrative structure from 21 regions to 22 regions by dividing Region XVII.
In 1976-77 the Women's Division sponsored four championship tournaments and eight invitational championships, while its membership grew to 345. Twenty-one sporting events were offered to the 580 members of the Men's Division, including the revival of the Junior Rose Bowl. The Board of Directors approved the concept of divisional play in the sports of cross country, tennis and golf for the 1978-79 college year.
In 1977-78 the membership of the Women's Division soared to a high of 434; the Men's Division stood at 564. Five football bowl games highlighted the Men's Division program.
In 1978-79 the membership in the Women's Division reached 471 while the Men's Division climbed back to 574. The Rodeo Bowl was added to the men's football program. The women's championship basketball and volleyball teams went to Mexico City for competition with the Mexican National Institute of Sport.
The year 1979 saw the addition of the Eastern Bowl to the list of sponsored NJCAA football bowl games, as well as the first Invitational Fall Golf Championship. The Women's Indoor Track and Field Championship moved from an invitational status to national championship status.
The year 1980-81 saw the Women's Division membership reach 490 members. Extensive changes were made in the Handbook and Casebook to bring about a more uniform interpretation of NJCAA Policy for the membership.
Leadership/GovernanceMary Ellen Leicht
Assistant Executive Director; Sports Information and Media Relations
Assistant Executive Director; Compliance
Director of Championship Events