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Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, December 14, 2000

D I V I S I O N - I I _ S P O R T S

HPU drop soccer

PacWest Conference breakup
leaves two island colleges without
a sponsoring league

By Brandon Lee
Special to the Star-Bulletin

In the first significant fallout from the breakup of the Pacific West Conference, Brigham Young University-Hawaii and Hawaii Pacific have decided to drop soccer from their respective NCAA Division II varsity programs beginning next year.

In October, the PacWest executive council and conference officials approved the withdrawal of 10 teams from the 16-team organization, effective next July 1.

The teams leaving to form their own as-of-yet unnamed conference are: Alaska Anchorage, Alaska Fairbanks, Central Washington, Humboldt State, Northwest Nazarene, Saint Martin's, Seattle, Seattle Pacific, Western Oregon and Western Washington.

The six schools remaining together and retaining the PacWest conference name with all assets and liabilities are: BYUH, Chaminade, Hawaii-Hilo, HPU, Montana State-Billings and Western New Mexico.

Unlike in men's basketball and women's volleyball -- in which all 16 schools field teams, the new arrangement presented particular problems for soccer. NCAA rules mandate that six schools field teams in each sport officially recognized as "conference" sports by the association.

Of the schools remaining in the PacWest, only three sponsored men's soccer and two, women's. HPU sponsored both men and women's soccer, while BYUH fielded just a men's team. MSU-Billings also sponsored both a men and women' s program.

"The dye was cast when the schools in the Northwest decided to leave the conference," BYUH athletic director Randy Day said. "They were the traditionally strong soccer schools."

Still, both BYUH and HPU had the option to operate their respective programs as NCAA independents.

However, with increased travel costs, no guarantee of postseason play and no support from the new PacWest, administrators and athletic department officials at both institutions deemed it too costly.

"I would have liked the chance to see if we could have survived as an independent," BYUH coach Bob Barry said. "I don't think there was any joy from anybody involved with this decision but, the bottom line is, our budget wouldn't allow it."

The disappointment at HPU might sink just a bit deeper. While the BYUH men's team just finished a 2-12-1 season in its fifth year of existence, both Sea Warriors teams completed extremely successful campaigns.

The Sea Warrior men finished one of the most successful seasons in the program's 11-year history as first time-ever conference co-champions with an 11-2-1 record. The Sea Warrior women enjoyed the first winning season in their six-year existence (10-6).

"It is disappointing because our program was just growing and finally starting to turn the corner," admitted HPU women's coach Mark Kane.

Still, officials at both HPU and BYUH are quick to point out that soccer is not being dropped altogether at the local small college level. HPU will continue supporting its men and women's programs as club teams, and BYUH will do likewise with its men's team.

In a move uncharacteristic for club sports, HPU will continue to maintain its coaching staff, to recruit, and to honor present scholarships while also offering ones for the immediate future -- with the hope of eventually rejoining the NCAA when feasible.

BYUH will honor current scholarships for one more year, but will no longer be actively recruiting or offering scholarships.

"I pushed for soccer here at HPU and I remain committed to it," HPU athletic director Tony Sellitto said. "We plan to keep NCAA regulations so we can rejoin in the future."

"The commitment of scholarships is really unheard of at the club level," HPU men's coach Frank Doyle added. "It shows the support of the administration and athletic department."

A decision that BYUH will have to make soon that HPU does not is the addition of another NCAA men's sport. In order to maintain Division II status, a school must sponsor four men's and four women's teams in association sports.

Hawaii Pacific

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