The Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges is the parent organization for thirty-six (36) community colleges in the states of Washington and Oregon*. The NWAACC has a variety of administrative responsibilities including conference tournament management, eligibility, publications, rule enforcement and sports information.
The growth of the community colleges over the past decade has been impressive. The colleges in the Northwest are comprehensive in nature and provide a variety of academic and vocational offerings as well as many enrichment activities for their students. As our student athletes have transisted into a work environment, many have provided testimony about the significant benefit and value that participation in community college athletics provided for them. Enrollment in community colleges continues to grow as does interest, participation and membership within the NWAACC.
* - three colleges outside Washington and Oregon hold partial membership in the NWAACC.
Although athletic competition between junior colleges existed in the 1930's, the first structured league and championship events in men's sports first came about when the Washington State Junior College Athletic Conference was formed in 1946. The nine charter members of the WSJCAC were Centralia, Clark, Everett, Grays Harbor, Lower Columbia, Olympic, Skagit Valley (known then as Mt. Vernon JC), Wenatchee Valley and Yakima Valley. Columbia Basin became the tenth member in 1955.
The conference offered football, basketball, baseball, tennis, track and golf. In 1963, wrestling entered the picture followed by cross country in 1965 and soccer in 1974. The first two years of the WSJCAC went without any bylaws until the spring of 1948 when Executive Secretary Jim Ennis of Everett JC along with Dave DuVall of Skagit Valley and Maury Phipps of Grays Harbor wrote the original constitution governing scholarship limits, grade eligibility requirements and overall philosophy of the conference's athletic programs.
In 1961, the Washington State Legislature cleared away a legal roadblock which had forbidden the establishment of junior colleges in those counties that had four-year colleges. That started a spurt of expansion as the conference doubled in size. In 1964, the conference was renamed the Washington Athletic Association of Community Colleges.
It was about this time when community college athletics came to life in the State of Oregon. In the winter of 1963, five schools met to exchange ideas on the possible formation of a league. The Oregon Community College Athletic Association then began play in 1963-64 with Blue Mountain, Southwestern Oregon, Central Oregon, Clatsop and Treasure Valley as charter members. The conference more than doubled in size when Clackamas, Lane, Mt. Hood, Umpqua and three others joined in 1968-69.
The WAACC was renamed the NWAACC when Mt. Hood left the OCCAA to join their Washington neighbors in 1970. It was during the seventies that women's sports started to grow. Previously they were governed by the Northwest College Women's Sports Association. Women's sports were combined with the men's sports when the umbrella organization of the NWAACC was formed for the 1978-79 season. The job of handling both the men's and women's athletics was too much for volunteer athletic directors who performed the task in the past. After the 1978-79 season, a five-member committee from the conference hired Frank Bosone as their first Executive Director. Bosone retired in 1992 and was succeeded by Dick McClain.
Northwest community college athletics was forever changed when seven schools from the OCCAA joined the NWAACC for the 1983-84 season. The merger between the Washington and Oregon colleges has helped the NWAACC become a strong organization. Since 1984, nine other colleges have added intercollegiate athletics and/or became NWAACC members.
Today, the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges has 36 member schools, making it the largest single community college conference in the United States.