BYU Officially Joins West Coast Conference Membership
Aug. 31, 2010
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - The West Coast Conference announced Wednesday that Brigham Young University has formally accepted an invitation to join the WCC with competition to begin in the 2011-12 academic year, and Gonzaga University officials believe it's a positive move.
"The West Coast Conference is excited to welcome Brigham Young University as our ninth member institution," University of Portland President and WCC Presidents' Council Chair Rev. E. William Beauchamp said. "In BYU, we are adding a private, faith-based institution with a strong academic reputation and tradition of excellence in athletics. We feel they will be a good athletic fit with our programs that are annually challenging for post-season appearances and national championships. We are looking forward to working with BYU in the months and years ahead."
"We're grateful and honored to accept this invitation from the West Coast Conference," said BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson. "We are pleased to be associating with a group of fellow private, faith-based institutions with whom we also share strong academics. We admire the collegiality and stability this conference enjoys and look forward to competing with them."
Brigham Young University brings to the West Coast Conference a track record of success in academics and athletics. BYU has been consistently recognized as one of the top-rated academic institutions in the nation and is home to an athletic program that has enjoyed success at both the conference and national levels.
BYU, which will become an independent in FBS football, will compete in the West Coast Conference in baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, women's soccer, men's and women's tennis and women's volleyball.
"This is an historic day for the West Coast Conference," WCC Commissioner Jamie Zaninovich said. "The addition of Brigham Young University adds to our membership another private, faith-based institution, which shares the common bond of an aligned emphasis on combining excellence in academics with excellence in athletics. We look forward to welcoming the Cougars to the WCC for the 2011-12 academic year."
The West Coast Conference was founded in 1952 to provide a venue for five San Francisco Bay Area schools to compete in basketball. Three of the conference's current institutions - Saint Mary's College, University of San Francisco and Santa Clara University - have been in the West Coast Conference since the outset and both Loyola Marymount University and Pepperdine University have been members of the WCC since 1955.
This is the first time the West Coast Conference has formally invited an institution as a full member since Gonzaga University and the University of San Diego began competing in the WCC in 1979.
Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth said he is excited about the future.
"I'm excited about BYU joining WCC. Everybody that's been paying attention to the national landscape of intercollegiate athletics and what happened with the Big Ten and Pac-10 earlier this spring, and recently with BYU seriously considering going independent in football, meant their (BYU's) other sports had to land someplace. It's impossible to create an independent schedule in all of those sports," Roth said.
"It's a positive step for the WCC," Few said. "In BYU we're definitely adding a quality program from a basketball point of view. They've been in the Top 25 in recent years and have been a NCAA Tournament participant. Anytime we add somebody like that it's a positive thing."
Graves echoed Few's sentiments.
"I'm really excited. I'm a Utah kid and been following BYU since I was a little boy. Ironically, Jeff Judkins, who is the women's basketball coach, was one of my heroes when I was a kid. He and I have become good friends so I'm excited about it. I think it's a great move, a high profile school that fits in a lot of ways in what we believe in and do in the WCC," Graves said.
Roth said speculation of rising travel costs associated with adding BYU is far-fetched.
"You have to realize we are adding two games to our schedule, but it means we have to take two games off our schedule. You're saying it adds to your travel costs, but technically it doesn't," Roth said. "You're replacing in all of your double-round robin sports (volleyball, men's soccer and men's and women's basketball) a home and away. So you're not traveling someplace else to travel to Provo, but you're also getting a home game. In single round-robin sports you're replacing games in sports like women's soccer and baseball. Plus, it's easy to get there (Provo)."
Roth also senses an excitement within the Gonzaga athletic department.
"Our coaches are excited about the opportunity. One of the things we believe at Gonzaga, and I believe the conference embraces this also, is to get better you have to continue to want to get better. You have to try and find ways to improve," Roth noted. "We're not bringing in just in men's and women's basketball, but virtually in each league sport, a program from BYU that will be competitive in every sport. What that will do for us is across the board make us more competitive. BYU is a national brand, are nationally known and will raise the profile of the league even more so. That's a positive thing."
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