Was the SEC formed in Knoxville at the Farragut Hotel?

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Do you know the SEC originated out of a meeting in Knoxville?

Trenton Keelan claims it happened on 530 S. Gay St., at what's now the Hyatt Place. He's the general manager of the new downtown hotel. Back in 1932 when the SEC was formed, it was known as the Farragut Hotel.

There's a placard hanging inside the Hyatt place that reads "Birthplace of the SEC."

"One of the best known and most loved things about this part of the country started right here at this very hotel," the sign continues.

Let's back it up to 1894 — according to SECsports.com, that's the year the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association was formed during a meeting called by a Vanderbilt professor with representatives from Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Sewanee present as well.

The SIAA league expanded in 1895 to 19 schools, and by 1920 it grew even more to 30 schools. That's when the larger schools reorganized as the Southern Conference at a meeting in Gainesville, Florida, Dec. 12-13, 1920. SC included Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Washington & Lee.

Although the SC was meant to be capped at 16 schools, it continued growing as well. By 1932, there were 23 teams — and they decided to split them according to which side of the Appalachian Mountains the schools were on.

That was decided in a meeting in Knoxville — supposedly at the Farragut Hotel — on Dec. 8-9, 1932.

"So in 1932, December of 1932, the SEC was actually formed here in this building in what was a meeting room in the hotel," Keelan said.

The schools west and south of the Appalachian Mountains — Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Louisiana State, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Sewanee, Tennessee, Tulane and Vanderbilt — became what's now known as the Southeastern Conference.

"The Southeastern Conference, powerhouse in all things athletic, was created in meetings at the Farragut Hotel in December of 1932," the Hyatt Place's SEC sign reads. "There were 13 original schools, of which 10 are still members."

Some new teams have been added and other teams have left the conference. Regardless of the exact location of that 1932 meeting, it's 100 percent true that Knoxville played a role in the SEC's formation.