The ACAC has established itself as the preeminent college athletic conference in Canada, fostering a rich tradition of excellence. It all began in 1964 when the founding organization and predecessor to the ACAC, the Western Inter-College Conference (WICC), came into existence with a mandate to regulate, coordinate and promote activities in two major areas - athletics and fine arts.
There were five charter members of the WICC at the time of its inception: Camrose Lutheran College, Lethbridge Junior College, Mount Royal Junior College, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. Men's basketball was the only athletic activity granted the designation of "official activity" whereas volleyball, hockey, cross country running, curling, bowling, badminton, and table tennis enjoyed "exhibition" status only. In the area of fine arts, competitions were staged in public speaking, debating and the dramatic arts.
Despite its initial success, the cultural program failed to secure any significant level of sustained interest and was terminated by constitutional amendment in 1969. The focus of the Conference thus became exclusively athletic and, as a consequence, the Western Inter-College Conference became known as the Alberta College Athletic Conference. In July 1981 the Conference achieved incorporation as the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference.
The growth and maturation of the ACAC since 1964 has been orderly and deliberate. Its five charter members have been joined by Red Deer College, Medicine Hat College, Grande Prairie Regional College, Grant MacEwan College, Lakeland College, Keyano College, Portage College, Olds College, Concordia University College of Alberta, The King's University College, University of Calgary, Ambrose University College, St. Mary's University College and Briercrest College, which, located in southern Saskatchewan, is the only non-Alberta institution involved in the Conference.
Similarly, the list of sanctioned athletic activities has, during the same timeframe, expanded from the original single sport of men's basketball to now include badminton, women's basketball, cross country running, cross country skiing, curling, golf, men's and women's hockey, men's and women's soccer, swimming, and men's and women's volleyball. National Championships are contested in men's and women's badminton, basketball, soccer, volleyball, golf and cross country running.
A Conference Council consisting of representatives from each of the member colleges, who meet two times annually, governs the ACAC. An executive committee of five elected officials has the authority to govern in the interim. The daily business of the Conference is mainly conducted from its offices in Edmonton where an a Coordinator of Finance & Administration and a Operations Mnager are employed. The Chief Executive Officer is based out of Calgary. The Conference Commissioner is also located in Edmonton. Two positions/departments are outsourced annually as a Conference Writer and Statistician, and vary in location throughout the province.
Basic funding for the operations of the ACAC are derived from its membership through general and individual activity assessments. The basic funding is augmented by an annual grant received from the Government of Alberta through Alberta Sports Connection.