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During the 1970-71 academic year, at the urging of State College Trustee Howard C. Smith, the athletic directors of the Massachusetts State Colleges held a series of meetings to discuss the possibility of forming an athletic conference. In June of 1971, Smith's dream became a reality as an affirmative agreement was reached and the MASCAC was created.

In September of 1974, James Sullivan Director of Athletics at Boston State, was appointed to act as the first commissioner of the MASCAC. At the same time Massachusetts Maritime Academy became a conference member.

July of 1975 brought a merger between Lowell State and Lowell Tech, resulting in the departure of Lowell State from the MASCAC. In January of 1982, Boston State merged with UMass-Boston and Boston State left the conference. Paul Bogan, Athletic Director at Westfield State, took over as commissioner in 1980. In September of 1990, Salem State Athletic director John Galaris was named commissioner.

The summer of 1997 began a new era for the MASCAC. John Harper, the Bridgewater State Athletic Director was appointed the fourth commissioner in conference history. In addition, Sue Chapman, the Athletic Director at Worcester State, was named the first assistant commissioner in MASCAC history. This was followed by the hiring of two Sports Information Directors Charles “Rusty” Eggen and Carey Eggen whom shared in the responsibilities. In August of 1997, North Adams State changed their name and became the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. In July of 2000, Scott Nichols, Athletic Director at Massachusetts College became the fifth commissioner in conference history.  In August of 2006, Angela Baumann was hired as the first full time commissioner and the sixth commissioner in conference history.  Justin Mokerzecki was hired as the MASCAC Media Relations Director December of 2006.  In August of 2008, Jim Seavey took over the Media Relations duties and as the Massachusetts Maritime Associate Athletic Director. In July of 2013, the MASCAC hired its first full time Media Relations Director Emily (Diekelmann) Loux.  

During the initial year of the MASCAC's existence, league members voted to award a “Cup” annually to the member institution which excelled in overall team competitions. The “Cup” was named in honor of Howard C. Smith in recognition of his many contributions to athletics. However, as a suitable scoring system was not established, the “Cup' was not awarded until the 1972-73 season.  Bridgewater State captured the 2013-14 Smith Cup, edging out runner-up Westfield State for the title.