STOCKTON (CBS13) – Stockton’s University of the Pacific is joining a conference gaining in national notoriety primarily because of the recent basketball success of schools such as St. Mary’s and Gonzaga.
The West Coast Conference announced Wednesday that Pacific has formally accepted an invitation to join the conference on July 1, 2013 for the 2013-14 academic year.
Pacific was one of five founding members of the WCC (then the California Basketball Association) in 1952-53 and remained in the conference until 1971. It currently competes in the Big West Conference.
“We are pleased to welcome back the University of the Pacific as the 10th member of the West Coast Conference,” St. Mary’s College president and conference presidents’ chairman Ronald Gallagher said in a prepared statement. “The University of the Pacific is an outstanding fit with our membership as an independent institution with a strong academic reputation and rich athletic history.
“It is a great opportunity to bring one of our founding members back into the conference and once again extend our footprint into the rapidly growing markets of Sacramento, Stockton and the Central Valley.”
Pacific joined current WCC members St. Mary’s of Moraga, the University of San Francisco and Santa Clara, as well as San Jose State, as the five founding members of the California Basketball Association. The league began play on January 2, 1953, as a convenient way for five Northern California schools to play basketball.
The league became the West Coast Athletic Conference in 1956 after adding Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine in 1955. Pacific left the WCAC in 1971, and since that time, the conference has added the University of Portland (1976), Gonzaga (1979), the University of San Diego (1979) and Brigham Young University (2011) and shortened its name to the West Coast Conference.
Pacific men’s basketball team made back-to-back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2004, 2005 and 2006. The Tigers now be competing against conference powers Gonzaga and St. Mary’s, both of which made the NCAA Tournament this season. St. Mary’s lost in its first game to Purdue; Gonzaga beat West Virginia but then lost to Final Four representative Ohio State 73-66. BYU also qualified for the tournament and won a play-in game before falling to Marquette.
Both of Pacific’s NCAA championships have come in women’s volleyball, with back-to-back national titles in 1985 and 1986 amidst a stretch of 24 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.
Pacific will join in the WCC in 2013-14 in baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s cross country, men’s golf, women’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis and women’s volleyball. Pacific also has committed to adding a men’s soccer team and is reviewing other programs to add or amend.
“We feel that Pacific is coming home by joining the WCC, where we have such a rich history,” said Ted Leland, the university’s athletics director. “We look forward to competing with this amazing set of institutions.”