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75th Anniversary Timeline

  1930's - 1940's - 1950's - 1960's - 1970's - 1980's - 1990's - 2000's - 2010's

  • 1940

    Hershel Smith of Compton College (Calif.) is elected NJCAA President and leads the Association in approving a geographic ‘regional’ membership model that still exists today. Officials divided the United States into six regions: Region 1 (Northern Calif.); Region 2 (Central Calif.); Region 3 (Southern Calif.); Region 4 (Southwest); Region 5 (Mountain); Region 6 (Eastern).

    Smith led Compton track and field to five NJCAA Championships (1939, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951) during his time as head coach from 1928-68. Smith coached many legendary athletes including Cornelius Johnson and Charles Dumas. Johnson who won the gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by setting an Olympic record in the high jump (2.03m) while Dumas was the first high jumper to clear 7 ft. in 1956 and won gold that year in the Olympics. Prior to coaching he was a top sprinter at the University of Southern California where he was part of 800-meter & 880-yard relay teams that set world records. Photo courtesy of El Camino College Compton.  

    Photo: Hershel Smith, Compton track and field coach. Photo courtesy of El Camino College Compton.  

  • 1941

    The first NJCAA executive meeting and championship event to be held outside the state of California takes place in June 1941 in Denver, Colo. The third NJCAA Track & Field Championship was won by Sacramento Junior College (Calif.) and the event was hosted by Trinidad Junior College (Colo.) and the Denver American Legion. The event marked the largest participation for an NJCAA event from colleges outside of California. Over 30 colleges from Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah are documented as having participated.

    Although elections would take place at the 1942 NJCAA Track & Field Championships, the 1941 executive meeting would be the last for the Association until after World War II.

    Photo: 1941 NJCAA Track & Field Championship Program from NJCAA Archives.  

  • 1942

    Sacramento Junior College (Calif.) wins its second-straight NJCAA Track & Field championship due in large part to the dominance of hurdler Joe Batiste who was the high-point winner both in 1941 and again in ’42. Batiste was considered one of the top hurdlers in the world during his era but due to World War II he never got his chance to prove it in the Olympics. Today he is still regarded as "the greatest track star ever developed in Arizona." 

    Otto K. Anderson of Pasadena Junior College (Calif.) was elected President and Lawrence Hanson of Reedley Junior College (Calif.) was tabbed for to the position of Secretary-Treasurer. Both would hold these positions for several years due to World War II.  

    Photo: 1942 NJCAA Track & Field Program from NJCAA Archives.  

  • 1943-45

    World War II suspends NJCAA sanctioned activities.

  • 1945

    Compton College (Calif.) hosts the Western States College Basketball Tournament in February 1945 thanks to the leadership and vision of athletic director and NJCAA supporter Earle J. Holmes. Many participating teams hailed from colleges active in the founding years of the NJCAA and talk of bringing the organization back to life was met with great enthusiasm. Pasadena Junior College (Calif.) got through the tough bracket to win the tournament title.

    Photo: 1945 Western States Basketball Tournament Program from NJCAA Archives.  

  • 1946

    The NJCAA National Track & Field Championship returns in May 1946 in Phoenix, Ariz., after a three-year hiatus. The fifth official meeting of the NJCAA was held in conjunction with the event with President Otto K. Anderson of Pasadena Junior College (Calif.) presiding. Herschel Smith of Compton College (Calif.) calls for and leads the discussion for the NJCAA to expand its scope to include football, basketball and swimming.

    P.F. Wilhelmsen of Visalia Junior College (Calif.), later known as College of the Sequoias, was named President, Smith Vice-President and George D. Hoy of Phoenix College (Ariz.) was elected to the office of Secretary-Treasurer.

    Photo: 1946 NJCAA Track & Field Program from NJCAA Archives. 

  • 1947

    The very successful Western States College Basketball Tournament, organized by Earle J. Holmes of Compton College (Calif.), spurs NJCAA President P.F. Wilhelmsen to call a special meeting in conjunction with the tournament. As a result, the Association approves expansion to eight geographic regions and each region is appointed a vice-president responsible for organizing qualifying regional basketball tournaments for the 1948 season. Under this plan both region winners and runners-up would advance to the first NJCAA Basketball Championship Tournament.

    Holmes was credited with creating national excitement about junior college basketball and had quite the understudy assisting him at Compton, as future NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle assisted in promoting the Western States Basketball Tournament.

    Photo: 1947 Western States Basketball Tournament Program from NJCAA Archives.  

  • 1948

    The first NJCAA Basketball Championship Tournament is held in Springfield, Mo., March 23-27 at the State Fieldhouse on the campus of Southwest Missouri State College. Marin Junior College from Kenfield, Calif., emerged from the tournament field to win the first national championship in NJCAA men’s basketball. The event put the NJCAA on the map and generated interest from Hutchinson, Kan., spurring them to put forth a strong bid to host the tournament in 1949.

    By participating in the 1948 tournament in Springfield, Mo., Bob Crowe of Compton College (Calif.) became the first African-American to play in Southwest Missouri State’s Field House.

    Due to the interest in the sport of basketball, NJCAA membership swells from just 23 to 121 colleges.

    At the NJCAA annual meeting held in conjunction with the first national basketball tournament, officials voted to expand from eight regions to 16. The meeting marked the first time all NJCAA Regions were in attendance and representatives from California were not in the majority.

    Photo: 1948 NJCAA Basketball Championship Tournament Program from NJCAA Archives.  

  • 1949

    The NJCAA Basketball Championship Tournament moves to Hutchinson, Kan., due to the efforts of Charles Sesher and support of American Legion Lysle Rishel Post 68 and Hutchinson Junior College. Thanks to Ricker Junior College of Houlton, Maine forgoing their spot in the tournament due to travel costs, Hutchinson JC was asked to fill the void in the bracket. HJC’s national runner-up finish to national champion Tyler Junior College (Texas) generates much needed support and excitement for the tournament within the local area. The tournament was a huge success and led to fans calling for Hutchinson to be the event’s permanent home.

    Photo: 1948 NJCAA Basketball Championship Tournament Program from NJCAA Archives.   

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