UC San Diego was denied entrance to the Division-I Big West Athletics Conference earlier this month. Earl Edwards, director of the Athletics Department and Juan Gonzalez, the vice chancellor of student affairs explained in an email to students that they are still committed to understanding and resolving the situation.
“As a University, we will continue dialogue to better understand and address the current issues surrounding UC San Diego’s potential membership in the Big West Conference,” the email said.
In an interview with the UCSD Guardian, Edwards elaborated on the situation, explaining that it’s not out of the ordinary for applicants to be rejected from a conference after their first attempt to gain membership.
“I’ve been involved in athletics for 30 to 40 years, and it’s not uncommon when it comes to expansion or realignment with conferences that there is a two or three-time process before you get the affirmative vote,” Edwards clarified. “I wasn’t expecting that for [UCSD] but it isn’t uncommon.”
Edwards emphasized that UCSD’s next steps are trying to convince the Big West’s board of presidents and chancellors to reconsider its decision.
“This is not something we planned for, but I will say that the university is committed to move to Division-I, and I in particular will continue dialogue with the Big West,” Edwards said.
A statement by Big West Commissioner Dennis Farrell, published by the Guardian earlier this month, explained that UCSD was rejected because the committee is currently not looking to expand membership.
“The Big West Board of Directors has decided not to pursue membership expansion at this time,” Farrell told the Guardian. “The Board is comfortable with the current alignment of membership and this decision should not reflect negatively in any way UC San Diego’s qualifications or Division-I potential.”
The referendum that passed last year stipulated that UCSD should apply to the Big West Conference because it is mostly a California school conference with the exception of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The conference already includes four UCs and four Cal States, giving UCSD the opportunity to compete against similar institutions.
In order to enter the other non-football Division-I conferences such as the West Coast Conference or the Mountain West Conference, UCSD would have to receive the financial backing to apply.
“If you’re going to apply to another conference, you need to have the financial backing to make that move, and our financial backing at this time is based on the student referendum that specifically states Big West only,” Edwards explained. “So if you were to look at another conference, you would have to look at another referendum.”
The deadline to enter the Big West Conference is September 2018 before the current referendum expires.
The Guardian also reached out to Gonzalez and Chancellor Pradeep Khosla, but neither responded by the time this article went to print.