Big West Conference Says, “We’re Good Without You!” to UC San Diego

Posted: April 8, 2017 in AVC Men's Basketball, AVC Men's BB 2016-17, AVC Men's BB 2017-18, D1

Ten months ago, I posted an article that D-2 UC San Diego requested to join the D-1 Big West Conference.

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I must admit, I have no first hand knowledge on why a D-1 conference would want to expand or stand pat in size but after working 40 years in business my best guess is that it has something to do with money and power.  Doesn’t everything?

Lets look at the addition of UC San Diego to the Big West Conference   strictly from a fan’s mode.

  1. The Big West Conference Board of directors say, “We are comfortable with the make up the conference right now and are not in the expansion mode.”  Hmmmnmn. Other than UC Davis and maybe UC Irvine, do you think the fans are happy with the conference make up right now?
  2. The UC San Diego location is in driving distance for most Big West fans and I would like a minni vacation when my team plays in San Diego.
  3. As of late, the Big West has been having difficulty in recruiting the quality D-1 players to make them competitive against the elite c0nferences.  By adding another D-1 team to the conference, will it weaken the quality of players even more for the current Big West teams?
  4. The Big West has two teams…Hawaii and CS Northridge…who are on 3 year NCAA probation.  Is the Big West trying to get their “house in order” before considering adding an additional team?


Big West denies UCSD’s quest for Div. I

The San Diego Union Tribune

Mark Zeigler and Tod Leonard Contact Reporter

UC San Diego’s sports programs suffered an upset defeat this week, and it happened not on a field or court but rather in a collection of conference calls and emails.

The university on Thursday was informed by the Big West Conference that its application to join the league and thus begin its path to NCAA Division I status in all sports would not be happening at this time.

The San Diego Union-Tribune first reported the results of the vote, and UCSD Athletic Director Earl Edwards confirmed he was told by Big West Commissioner Dennis Farrell that the board of chancellors and presidents representing the nine conference schools voted against expansion.

For UCSD’s entry to be approved, a super-majority of seven “yes” votes was required. That did not happen when the board of directors completed their tally last week. The Big West cited confidentiality for the board members in declining to provide specifics on the vote count.

“It basically boiled down to the fact the conference has not been in expansion mode,” Farrell said in a telephone interview Thursday night. “It was not something we were pursuing until the interest of UC San Diego came to us.

“At the end of the day, our board of directors just felt that right now they’re comfortable with the makeup of the conference. They’re comfortable with the balance of the membership. There wasn’t an overriding interest in changing it.”

The Big West is made up of four UC schools (Irvine, Riverside, Santa Barbara, Davis), four Cal State schools (Long Beach, Fullerton, Northridge, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo) and Hawaii, which was the last school to be admitted into the conference in 2012.

UCSD has been in the NCAA’s Division II since 2000-01 and began ramping up a drive to Division I years ago, when its first application to join the Big West was turned down in 2010.

In May 2016, UCSD students voted overwhelmingly to approve a hike in fees that would fund Division I athletics, specifically with a move into the Big West. In January, the UCSD faculty approved the rise to Div. I with a support of 62 percent when only a simple majority is required.

UCSD was hopeful that it had put the pieces of financing and support together in such a way this time as to sway the Big West positively.

“It’s a high level of disappointment,” Edwards said. “Obviously, we were hoping to be accepted right away.

“I’ve been in this business for 30-plus years. When you look at athletics and realignment and new membership, there are a lot of things that take place. It’s not uncommon for us to find ourselves in the position we’re in.

“We are still going to pursue moving to Division I with the hope that things will change in the relatively near future.”

The timeline is somewhat critical for UCSD, because while Edwards said the school needs to let the Big West decision “digest,” there is an important piece of the Tritons’ bid that carries an expiration date.

A fact-finding report published before May’s student referendum said UCSD must receive a Big West invite by Sept. 15, 2018, or the student approval is null and void.

That would leave UCSD with a seemingly small window to persuade the Big West to take another look without having to reorganize campus support.

“I’d have to look at the situation and see where we are,” Edwards said of another voting process. “When it comes to the student vote, there are a lot of factors involved. There is timing in terms of economics, and what the students are thinking as a body.”

Farrell said he could not speculate on when the Big West might consider UCSD’s application again.

“There is no plan to do so,” Farrell said. “At the same time, I learned a long time ago, you never say never in this business.

“I think UC San Diego is still going to be very attractive as a Division I school at some point in time in the future,” he said. “I’m not here to tell them what they should do in the future. There’s nothing negative about UC San Diego. I can only say glowing, positive things about them.”

Schools often are denied in their first attempt at joining a new conference. Bakersfield was denied by the Big West twice after transitioning from Div. II to Div. I, and then once by the Western Athletic Conference before the WAC finally admitted it in 2013.

In an interview with the Union-Tribune in January, Farrell said, “In the sports that are important to us I think we’ve got a pretty good reputation nationally. So I don’t think the pressure is there for us to move (to expand) if we don’t want to. It’s not going to make us look bad.”

The conference had four men’s basketball teams ranked in the top 100 in RPI in 2015-16; Hawaii’s women’s volleyball team made it to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2015; and three different baseball teams have reached the College World Series in successive years.

On Thursday, Farrell said the schools are pleased with the balance they have between the UC and Cal State institutions.

“That’s been a real positive feeling in our conference,” he said.

A move to Div. I would take at least six years — two to elevate athletic scholarships to minimum levels, followed by a four-year transition period before achieving full-fledged status that allows postseason participation.

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