Thursday brought us a reminder that the best-laid conference moves don’t always work out as expected, sometimes even before a school has made a move.
NCAA Division II member UC San Diego is one of several schools looking to begin to move to Division I, joining Cal Baptist and North Alabama as three schools with formal plans to start the transition in the next few years. UCSD’s move, though, is contingent upon the school receiving an invitation from the Big West Conference, an almost all-California based league now that includes four members of the University of California school system (UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara) plus four schools in the Cal State system (Fullerton, Long Beach, Northridge plus Cal Poly), as well as Hawaii. On Thursday, though, it was reported by the San Diego Union Tribune that UCSD was denied admission to the conference as the school did not receive the seven of nine votes from conference presidents required.
A possible move to Division I and even the Big West is not dead yet-UC San Diego can apply again, and it’s not that uncommon for schools to be rejected by a conference at first but then admitted later. The process likely will include some regrouping, refining of presentations and politicking, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the school still get in. Suffice to say, though, that UCSD’s possible move up-which was approved when students voted last year to more than double a student activity fee that would fund the move-could be in danger.
The Big West obviously makes the most sense for UCSD, while the Western Athletic Conference could be an option as well. Cal State Bakersfield is the only WAC member from California at this time, though (Cal Baptist also will join when it makes the move to D-I), meaning travel will be a heavy consideration.
The Tritons (that’s their nickname) have 23 varsity sports programs, none of them football. The school has considered the move to Division I for a number of years and even had a student vote in 2012 that failed. Both its men’s and women’s basketball teams advanced to the Division II tournaments this year, and the men’s team advanced to the West Region championship game, just missing a trip to the Elite Eight, which starts D-II’s version of the Division I Final Four.
UCSD has been a power in a number of sports at the Division II level (it finished third in the NACDA Directors Cup standings at that level last school year), so it’s a program much like sister school (and former D-II power) UC Davis that may well be ready to graduate to the next level. But it can’t do that without a conference sponsoring it, per NCAA rules attempting to limit the number of schools reclassifying to Division I. And so, the wait continues.
- Friday is expected to be the day that American Athletic Conference presidents vote on admitting Wichita State to the conference, almost certainly for the 2017-18 school year. Here’s hoping the move works out for the Shockers and their fans; contrary to how it’s been presented in many national media (who have seemed unable to get enough of the story, even as there’s been little new to report-by every indication this has been a done deal for weeks now), the move will have significant risks for WSU, some of which Hoopville’s Phil Kasiecki noted earlier this week. Wichita State will be getting on the conference merry-go-round and is choosing instability over stability, unlike a school like Gonzaga has in building its national power in a similar league to the Missouri Valley. It’s no secret many members of the AAC would leave the league in a second if an opportunity to improve their football fortunes presented itself, meaning the league the Shockers are joining now may not be the one they get two years from now. The short-term gains-as in, next year-are almost certain; the long term is much cloudier, as many basketball programs in leagues like Conference USA have seen in recent years.
- More players going to the NBA Draft from some of the country’s most prominent programs are Luke Kennard from Duke and Isaiah Briscoe from Kentucky. Both will be hiring agents and thus there is no chance of their returning to college. Neither is a surprise, and both programs are sustaining exactly the type of regular roster turnover that accompanies actively recruiting the one-and-done type players.
- Hoopville czar Phil Kasiecki has a feature piece on national champion North Carolina and Roy Williams winning his third national title.
Have a great Friday and a terrific weekend. That will do it for the Morning Dish for a while, as we’ll now take some time off from regular duty until the fall, popping up on occasion as special events might merit. Thank you for reading, do enjoy the offseason and check in with Hoopville in the offseason, we’ll again have our regular conference post-mortem series and other features.