No Division-I Upgrade Until At Least 2013

The move to Division I athletics is on hold indefinitely, after the Big West Conference declined to add UCSD as member for the second time in less than six months. The National Collegiate Athletic Association requires that a school acquire conference membership before moving into Division I.

The Big West Conference Board of Directors, led by conference commissioner and Long Beach State athletic director Dennis Farrell, met last week to hear from UCSD representatives on the school’s proposed move to Division I athletics. Big West officials ultimately decided the conference will not expand beyond its current 10 members at this time.

“At this point, there was no desire to move beyond the 10 members we’ll have starting in 2012 and ‘13,” Farrell said in an interview with city news services. “It’s nothing against [UCSD]. There’s a recognition that UCSD would fit well institutionally with the rest of our members but right now there’s a ‘no vacancy’ sign.”

The conference added University of Hawaii in December to start in the 2012-13 academic year. UCSD also expressed interest at that time, but Hawaii was the only school added. Hawaii — who has a football team — was able to offer to cover part of the travel expenses for other schools in the conference.

Last week, UCSD officials informed the conference of the findings of the Division I feasibility report released in March. The report found that, while football is not feasible at this time, UCSD fits the profile of a Division I school, and consequently A.S. Council passed a resolution on March 9 supporting a referendum that would raise student fees for the move sometime next year. But Big West officials were content with the conference’s current makeup.

“They are not interested in expanding beyond 10 at this time,” UCSD Athletic Director Earl Edwards said. “When you look at a conference, an even number is usually what you want to go with, so I think it was more structural than anything else.”

A.S. President Alyssa Wing — who heavily emphasized athletics in her election platform —  said she will continue with efforts to move to Division I.

“While the Big West did not accept UCSD at this time, it does not mean that the

opportunity to join the Big West has closed,” Wing said. “We are still considering a referendum to advance UCSD to Division I, and are continuing to discuss options.”

In light of the Big West’s decision, UCSD will not be able to make the jump until at least the 2013-14 academic year. The Big West includes all other Division-I UC campuses except for UCLA and UC Berkeley, which are part of the Pac-10 Conference, and facilitated UC Davis’s move to Division-I beginning in 2003.

“I’m not going to say I wasn’t disappointed, because clearly I was,” Edwards said. “But our plan is to continue to do our homework and look into what it’s going to take to move to Division I.”

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