The Big West Conference Board of Directors announced Monday, Dec. 2 that California State University, Bakersfield and the University of California, San Diego will be added as the 10th and 11th members of the conference respectively.
CSU Bakersfield will become an official member of the conference July 1, 2020, and will immediately be eligible to compete in round-robin and single-site championship sports for Big West titles, awards and honors as well as continue its eligibility for NCAA automatic qualification in all sports.
UC San Diego will begin an NCAA mandated four-year reclassification period to Division I July 1, 2020 and will become an official member of the conference July 1, 2024. Its teams will be included in all Big West round-robin sports schedules beginning with the 2020-21 academic year.
Expanding the Big West
In a press release, Big West Conference Commissioner Dennis Farrell issued the following statement:
“The addition of these two outstanding universities will further strengthen the Big West’s position as the preeminent NCAA Division I public university conference for the states of California and Hawaii,” Farrell said in a press release. “The 2018-19 academic year marks the 50th anniversary of the Big West Conference and this membership development positions the conference to continue growing and thriving for the next 50 years.”
Beginning in 2020-21 CSU Bakersfield sports will participate in Big West play in men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, women’s cross country, women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s track and field, women’s volleyball and beach volleyball.
“CSU Bakersfield is honored to be invited to join the Big West Conference, and I am pleased to announce that we have accepted the invitation. I believe that this exciting move into the Big West Conference is in the best long-term interests of our athletics program, our university, our alumni, our community, and our Roadrunner fans,” CSU Bakersfield President Horace Mitchell said in a press release. “We are prepared and committed to contribute to the growth and vitality of the Big West Conference and will bring a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm to the conference.”
CSU Bakersfield’s athletic programs have recorded significant success during the past several years, including seven team conference championships in the past three years. Since its move to Division I in 2010, the CSU Bakersfield men’s basketball program has achieved national acclaim with a berth in the NCAA Tournament in 2016 and a historic run in the National Invitational Tournament in 2017, becoming the first eighth seed to advance to the semifinals.
“This is a wonderful day for our athletics department, university, and community,” CSU Bakersfield Athletic Director Kenneth Siegfried said in a press release. “Membership in the Big West will be transformational for our student-athletes. Our focus will continue to be on the four pillars of success which include promoting academic excellence, providing an outstanding student-athlete experience, pursuing competitive success, and engaging the community.”
UC San Diego will field teams in the in the Big West Conference in men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, cross country, men’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s tennis and track and field. UC San Diego’s teams will not be eligible for the Big West’s NCAA automatic qualification in single site championship sports until July 1, 2024.
“Today marks a historic day for UC San Diego,” UC San Diego Athletic Director Earl Edwards said in a press release. “We’re excited to become a member of the Big West Conference and compete against peer institutions that share our absolute commitment to academic and athletic excellence.”
UC San Diego athletics programs have had success while competing in Division II since making the transition in 2001.
“The Big West’s proven record of achievement, integrity and innovation aligns perfectly with the culture of Triton athletics and our entire university community. Together, we’ll accelerate success,” Edwards said.
With the additions of CSU Bakersfield and UC San Diego in 2020-21, the Big West conference will expand from nine to 11 programs.