Coming a long way: Evolution of a mighty JC conference
Region 18 was organized in 1968 when the national Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) changed the original 16 regions to 19. They formed the region by splitting away Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana while leaving California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona to make up region 1. Competition was generally divided into an eastern division made up of College of Southern Idaho, North Idaho College, Ricks College and Treasure Valley Community College and the western division consisting of the remainder of the schools from Oregon and Washington. The early history of Region 18 basketball saw College of Southern Idaho dominate, winning 11 of the first 14 titles highlighted by an NJCAA title in 1975-76.
At the end of the 1983 school year, the Oregon and Washington schools, with the exception of Treasure Valley and Clackamas Community College dropped their national participation.
One year later Clackamas also dropped out, but a change in boundaries in the region brought in five teams from Region 1. These were comprised of teams from all of Utah and part of Colorado. Those teams were Colorado Northwestern, College of eastern Utah, Dixie, Snow and Utah Valley State College.
The 1984-85 season saw all nine teams play each other home and away, with the top two teams from the northern division (Idaho and Oregon) meeting the two top teams from the southern division (Utah and Colorado) to determine a regional winner. The site of the tournament was to alternate yearly with the top ranked team from the north hosting one year and then the top ranked team from the south hosting the next. Under that format in the 1984-85 season Dixie won the region 18 crown and then went on to win the NJCAA Championship.
Inter-divisional play was suspended for the 1985-86 season, although some teams played each other on a non-regional basis. The format for determining the regional winner, however remained the same. During the year, Flathead CC of Kalispell, Montana briefly joined the region, but disbanded its program midway through the season.
In 1986, the nine schools combined to form on league, with the top four finishers qualifying for the region 18 tournament, regardless on whether they were from the north or from the south. The northern and southern divisions were maintained for Region 18 Tournament hosting privileges only, with hosting north to south on alternating years.
That first year (1986-87) three teams from the north; Southern Idaho, Northern Idaho and Ricks; qualified along with Dixie from the south. Southern Idaho won the Region 18 Tournament and went on to take the National Championship, giving the league immediate recognition as a national power. Southern Idaho went on to win eight straight SWAC and region 18 crowns.
Salt Lake Community College Joined the region in 1987-88 to bring the field to an even 10 schools and the region finals format was changed to allow eight schools to compete.
Though the 10 schools had played a regular home and away league schedule since 1986, the league did not have a name. In 1990 it adopted a title-The Scenic West Athletic Conference.
It was decided in 1990 to combine the site of the en's and women's finals. In 1992, the women's field was expanded from four teams to six teams. In 1993, the women's field was expanded from six teams to eight teams. A re-aligning of divisions by the NJCAA in 1991 led to an automatic berth in the NJCAA for both the men's and women's Region 18 champions in 1991.
The conference began to change again as the 2002 season ended. CC of Southern Nevada joined the SWAC to compete in men's and women's basketball and baseball. Rick's College withdrew from the league, dropping intercollegiate athletics and moving to university status as BYU-Idaho. At the same time Treasure Valley withdrew from SWAC to compete with Washington and Oregon junior colleges. At the end of the 2003, Utah Valley officially withdrew from the league, moving to NCAA Division I status and Southern Nevada dropped its men's and women's basketball programs.
Dixie State College finished out the 2005-06 season then moved to NCAA Division II status.
The league now stands at eight schools with six participating in basketball. The are the College of Eastern Utah, College of Southern Idaho, Colorado Northwestern College, North Idaho College, Salt Lake Community College and Snow College.