PACIFIC WEST CONFERENCE
PacWest guaranteed NCAA berths
Christmas has come two years early for the Pacific West Conference.
The NCAA Division II Presidents Council yesterday waived the two-year waiting period that applies to newly active leagues for an automatic qualification into NCAA championships. The decision means the PacWest has a guaranteed berth into the NCAA tournament for women's volleyball, tennis, softball and soccer as well as men's and women's basketball, and men's golf and baseball.
The eight-member PacWest is no longer at the mercy of a regional at-large committee, which has often ignored successful Hawaii teams. This past season alone, the Hawaii-Hilo volleyball team (23-5, 14-0) and Hawaii Pacific softball team (43-5-1, 23-1) were not given at-large spots despite their records and strength of schedule.
"I'm so excited that the Presidents Council recognized the importance of strengthening the West," PacWest commissioner Bob Hogue said yesterday. "This gives us tremendous strength, to have automatic qualifying, especially for women's basketball and soccer.
"It's a landmark day. We have been fighting long and hard for this to happen. It's important that they recognized the PacWest was not a new conference but a re-emerging one."
About eight years ago, the PacWest's mainland schools left to join the Great Northwest Atlantic Conference, leaving the league with the four Hawaii - Brigham Young-Hawaii, Chaminade, Hawaii-Hilo and Hawaii Pacific. That was two below the required minimum for active membership.
The PacWest has since added Dixie State, Notre Dame de Namur and - most recently - Dominican and the San Francisco Academy of Art.