Point Loma Nazarene University has accepted the invitation to join the Pacific West Conference (PacWest), pending acceptance into the NCAA Division II. PLNU, which currently competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), has applied for NCAA Division II membership and will know of the NCAA’s decision by July 12th. Establishing a conference association is an important step in the application process.
“We are pleased to be invited into membership by the unanimous vote of the PacWest Conference,” said PLNU President Dr. Bob Brower. “We believe our application to the NCAA and the invitation for membership in PacWest will provide exciting opportunities for the future of PLNU and our student-athletes.”
PLNU plans on remaining in the NAIA and the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) for the 2011-12 season and joining the PacWest starting in 2012-13. The Sea Lion athletic program will immediately be eligible for regular season conference championships and awards but will not be able to compete in regional or national play until awarded full NCAA membership in 2014-15.
PacWest Commissioner Bob Hogue said that the conference was “excited and thrilled” that PLNU chose the PacWest and that “adding a school with the Sea Lions' athletic tradition and academic stature, along with its incredible campus in the San Diego area fits right in with our image as 'the most beautiful destination conference in the entire NCAA'."
The Pacific West Conference is the largest geographically diverse conference competing at the NCAA Division II level. In 2011-12, the PacWest will consist of 10 schools located in Arizona, California, Hawai‘i, and Utah. Beginning with the 2012-13 campaign, the PacWest will grow to 14 institutions in seven major metropolitan areas spread over four states and four times zones. The major metro areas include Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, Fresno and Honolulu.
Current PacWest schools are: Academy of Art (Calif.), Dominican (Calif.), Notre Dame de Namur (Calif.), Grand Canyon (Ariz.), Dixie State (Utah), Hawai’i Pacific, Chaminade (Hawai’i), Hawai’i-Hilo and BYU-Hawai’i. California Baptist is leaving the GSAC for the PacWest this upcoming fall.
Two other GSAC schools, Azusa Pacific and Fresno Pacific, will also announce that they are joining the PacWest, as will fellow NAIA institution Holy Names University (Calif.) Pending NCAA approval, this expansion would push the league’s membership up to 14.
"The PacWest has come a long way in a few short years, building its reputation as a powerful West Region conference in many sports,” said Hogue. “We believe the addition of Point Loma Nazarene University, along with three other outstanding universities, positions us as one of the fastest rising conferences in the nation. We are proud that PLNU will be with us in the PacWest!"
PLNU Athletic Director Ethan Hamilton responded enthusiastically to the PacWest invitation while also acknowledging the history of competition enjoyed in the GSAC. The university has been a member of the conference since 1986 and won 41 regular season titles during that time.
"As one of the founding members of the GSAC, we are thankful for our longstanding relationship in the NAIA's top conference,” he said. “In taking this next step forward, we desire to also be a strong contributor in the PacWest for years to come. I believe our new home will be a good fit for our institution in many ways and that we can continue to honor our Christian commitment and holistically develop our student-athletes.”