Chancellor Pradeep Khosla announced this afternoon that UC San Diego cleared the final hurdle to becoming a Division-I university and was invited to join the Big West Athletics Conference. Flanked by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Sanders, Director of Athletics Earl Edwards, and several others on stage at RIMAC Arena, Khosla hailed UCSD’s acceptance to the NCAA conference as “a very long time coming for our Tritons and Triton family.”
CSU Bakersfield also accepted an invitation to join the Big West Conference.
The announcement, which involved fanfare like performances from the Pep Band, marks the latest development in UCSD Athletics’ year-and-a-half-long effort to jump from Division-II to Division-I, although it will take until 2020 for all athletics teams to compete at this higher level.
The process first began in May 2016 when students voted overwhelmingly in favor of raising their activity fees to help meet the financial threshold that is required for universities to compete at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics. The Academic Senate then sent an advisory vote supporting the Tritons’ move to Division-I to Chancellor Pradeep Khosla, whose approval cleared the way for the university to pursue an invitation to the Big West Conference.
In order for UCSD to secure membership, seven of the nine Big West Conference member needed to vote “yes,” which initially proved to be an obstacle for the school. Comprised of four UC campuses, four California State Universities, and the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the conference rejected UCSD’s first membership bid in April 2017.
This time, however, UCSD received the necessary number of affirmative votes from the other schools. According to Edwards, the Big West Conference changed its stance when the possibility of adding CSU Bakersfield to the conference alongside UCSD arose, which maintains the balance between CSU and UC schools in the Big West.
“[Moving to Division-I] will significantly increase our visibility and align us with similar institutions with whom we already compete,” Khosla said.
The 2016 referendum mandated that student fees rise beginning this academic year through the 2019-2020 year. However, because UCSD was not yet invited to the Big West Conference at the start of this year, the fee increases will be implemented beginning with the 2018-2019 academic year. Adjusted for inflation, the student activity fee will increase by $60 per quarter for the 2018-2019 academic year, then again by $55 per quarter for the 2019-2020 academic year, and then one last time by another $45 per quarter for the 2020-2021 academic year.