Big West Conference
The Big West Conference (BWC) is an American collegiate athletic conference whose member institutions participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I. The conference was originally formed in 1969 as the Pacific Coast Athletic Association (PCAA), and in 1988 was renamed the Big West Conference. The conference stopped sponsoring college football after the 2000 season.
|Big West Conference|
|Members||9 (11 in 2020)|
|Former names||Pacific Coast Athletic Association (1969–1988)|
|Commissioner||Dennis Farrell (since 1992)|
Pacific Coast Athletic Association
The Big West Conference was formed in June 1968 as the Pacific Coast Athletic Association. The five original charter members were Fresno State, San Jose State, UC Santa Barbara, San Diego State, and Long Beach State. Two other schools, Cal State Los Angeles and the University of the Pacific, were also considered but they declined at that time to pursue membership. The newly formed conference had a number of meetings to set up its governance, which was confirmed in October 1968 on the campus of UC Santa Barbara. Before the league started play, Cal State Los Angeles joined as a full member and the University of the Pacific joined for football only, becoming a full member itself two years later. The conference itself lists July 1, 1969 as the recognized creation date with the 7 institutions.
Since its inception as the Pacific Coast Athletic Association, the conference has seen many changes. Utah State was the first institution outside of California to join the conference in 1978. This opened the floodgates for many other schools to affiliate with the PCAA; notable schools include UNLV, Nevada, Louisiana Tech, Boise State, and football-only members, such as Southwestern Louisiana and Arkansas State.
In 1983, the PCAA became the first western conference to introduce women's athletic programs, allowing its female student-athletes to compete at the same level as their male counterparts. This proved vital for Hawaiʻi as their only participation in the conference was for their women's sports.
However, many universities left to join conferences that were perceived as more well-known, such as the Western Athletic Conference or the Mountain West Conference, while others did not see the benefit of travel since historically many of the teams have been California-based.
From the departures of Idaho and Utah State in 2005 until the arrival of Hawaii in 2012, all members were based in California, reducing the cost and travel time between the universities. When Hawaii joined, it agreed to help defray a portion of travel costs to that state for the league's California members.
There have been no fewer than 25 full and associate members in the conference's history, while only two of the original seven charter members remain (Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara).
The change to the Big West
Effective July 1, 1988, the Pacific Coast Athletic Association changed its name to the Big West Conference. With such schools as Utah State, UNLV, Nevada, New Mexico State, and Hawaii now in the fold, the name change was more representative of its member institutions. In addition, the conference had signed a contract with ESPN to have its men's basketball games telecast as the third game of a triple header known as Big Monday - the other conferences being featured were the Big East and the Big Ten so the name Big West fit the theme.
- Cal Poly was an affiliate member in women's volleyball from 1984-85 to 1989-90.
- The Hawaii beach volleyball team is officially Rainbow Wahine, but more commonly uses the nickname SandBows.
- The Long Beach State baseball team uses the nickname Dirtbags instead of 49ers.
- UC Santa Barbara joined the conference when it was founded in 1969, left to become an independent after the 1973–74 school year, then rejoined for the 1976-77 school year.
|Institution||Nickname||Location||Founded||Joined||Type||Enrollment (Fall 2017)||Primary
|California State University, Sacramento
|30,670||Big Sky||men's soccer
|California State University, Bakersfield
|University of California, San Diego
(UC San Diego)
|Tritons||La Jolla, California||1960||2017||Public
|36,624||CCAA (D–II)||men's volleyball (2018)
women's water polo (2019)
- Sacramento State men's soccer joined the Big West Conference in the 2012 season (2012–13 school year) and beach volleyball followed for the 2016 season (2015–16 school year).
- CSU Bakersfield beach volleyball joined the Big West Conference in the 2016 season.
- UC San Diego men's volleyball joined the Big West Conference for the 2018 season (2017–18 school year).
|California State University, Bakersfield
|8,720||July 1, 2020||0|
|University of California, San Diego
(UC San Diego)
|Tritons||La Jolla, California||1960||Public
|33,735||July 1, 2020||0|
Many of the former members of the Big West are now members of the Western Athletic Conference or the Mountain West Conference. Of the nine schools that were in the WAC before its early-2010s realignment, only Hawaii had not spent some time in the Big West as a football participant – it was a Big West member only in women's sports. Of the former members, Cal State Los Angeles is the only team that reverted to Division II level.
School names and nicknames reflect those used by the institutions when they were Big West members. One school has changed its name (Southwestern Louisiana, now branded athletically as Louisiana and also known as Louisiana–Lafayette) and one its nickname (Arkansas State, from Indians to Red Wolves).
Former full members
|Institution||Nickname||Location||Founded||Joined||Left||Type||Enrollment||Current Primary Conference|
|Boise State University||Broncos||Boise, Idaho||1932||1996||2001||Public||22,678||Mountain West Conference|
|California State University, Fresno
|Bulldogs||Fresno, California||1911||1969||1992||Public||22,565||Mountain West Conference|
|California State University, Los Angeles
(Cal State L.A.)
|Golden Eagles||Los Angeles, California||1947||1969||1974||Public||20,619||CCAA (Division II)|
|University of Idaho||Vandals||Moscow, Idaho||1889||1996||2005||Public||11,180||Big Sky Conference|
|University of Nevada, Las Vegas
|Rebels||Paradise, Nevada||1957||1982||1996||Public||28,203||Mountain West Conference|
|University of Nevada, Reno||Wolf Pack||Reno, Nevada||1874||1992||2000||Public||18,227||Mountain West Conference|
|New Mexico State University||Aggies||Las Cruces, New Mexico||1888||1983||2000||Public||18,497||Western Athletic Conference|
|University of North Texas||Mean Green||Denton, Texas||1890||1996||2000||Public||35,778||Conference USA|
|San Diego State University||Aztecs||San Diego, California||1897||1969 (men's sports);
1984 (women's sports)
|1978 (men's sports);
1990 (women's sports)
|Public||28,789||Mountain West Conference|
|San Jose State University||Spartans||San Jose, California||1857||1969||1996||Public||32,697||Mountain West Conference|
|Utah State University||Aggies||Logan, Utah||1888||1978||2005||Public||28,796||Mountain West Conference|
|University of the Pacific||Tigers||Stockton, California||1851||1969 (football-only);
1971 (all sports)
|2013||Private||6,296||West Coast Conference|
Former affiliate members
|California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
(Cal Poly Pomona)
(NCAA Division II)
|California State University, Sacramento
|San Diego State University||Aztecs||San Diego||1897||2012||2013||Public||33,790||Mountain West||women's water polo|
Former football-only members
at the time
|Arkansas State University||Indians||Jonesboro, Arkansas||1909||1993,
|Louisiana Tech University||Bulldogs||Ruston, Louisiana||1894||1993||1996||Public||11,581||Sun Belt||C-USA|
|Northern Illinois University||Huskies||DeKalb, Illinois||1895||1993||1996||Public||25,313||Mid-Continent||MAC|
|University of Southwestern Louisiana||Ragin' Cajuns||Lafayette, Louisiana||1898||1993||1996||Public||19,188||Sun Belt|
Full members Full members (non-football) Assoc. members (football only) Assoc. member (list sports)
- San Diego State played football as an independent for the 1976 and 1977 seasons prior to leaving the Big West Conference in 1978.
- UC Santa Barbara was an independent from 1974–75 to 1975–76.
- Cal State Fullerton played football as an independent for the 1992 season and dropped football entirely the following year.
- Louisiana Tech, Northern Illinois, Southwestern Louisiana, and Arkansas State joined the Big West for a short-lived football consortium from 1993 to 1995.
- Arkansas State played football as an independent from 1996 to 1998 and then rejoined the Big West for football during the 1999 and 2000 seasons.
In baseball, Cal State Fullerton has won four College World Series titles with national championships in 1979, 1984, 1995, and 2004. In addition, Long Beach State and UC Irvine have made multiple appearances in the College World Series. Fullerton also has a national championship in softball, winning in 1984. Long Beach State has won three NCAA women's volleyball titles, as a part of Big West Conference women's volleyball, with national championships in 1989, 1993, and 1998. Misty May-Treanor led the 49ers to a 36-0 record en route to the program's most recent title. UC Santa Barbara was the NCAA men's soccer runner-up in 2004, losing the national championship match to Indiana on penalty kicks. The Gauchos returned to the College Cup in 2006 and won the national championship.
Former Big West members UNLV and Pacific won national championships while part of the conference. The UNLV Runnin' Rebels men's basketball team won the 1990 NCAA tournament championship after routing Duke 103-73 in the national title game. UNLV was undefeated during the 1991 NCAA men's basketball season before falling to Duke in the final four. The Runnin' Rebels during this era are widely considered one of the best college basketball teams of all time. The Pacific Tigers women's volleyball team won back-to-back national championships in 1985 and 1986.
The Big West did not sponsor men's volleyball or men's water polo, but it was the primary conference affiliation of several schools that compete in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation for these sports, respectively. In NCAA men's volleyball, UC Irvine has established itself as one of the nation's most elite programs, winning four national championships in 2007, 2009, 2012, and 2013. Long Beach State also won men's national volleyball titles in 1991, 2018 and 2019. In NCAA men's water polo, UC Irvine won three national championships in 1970, 1982, and 1989. UC Santa Barbara also won a men's water polo title in 1979.
On May 31, 2016, the Big West announced the conference would sponsor men's volleyball as its 18th sport, with five Big West schools leaving the MPSF to establish the new men's volleyball league. Men's volleyball is the third of four sports in which the MPSF has recently seen a mass exodus of teams to join an existing conference in a newly sponsored sport, with men's soccer, men's water polo, and women's lacrosse as the others. The men's volleyball membership includes core Big West members Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State, Hawaii, UC Irvine, and UC Santa Barbara. UC San Diego joined as an affiliate to bring the league to the NCAA minimum requirement of 6 teams to receive an automatic bid for the NCAA tournament.
Big West Commissioner Dennis Farrell explained that adding UC San Diego was not an indicator UC San Diego would be added to the Big West Conference as a full member. UC San Diego had recently passed a bill to move all their sports to Division I and is looking for an invite from the Big West Conference. UC San Diego has long competed at the Division I level in men's volleyball; the NCAA conducts a single national championship open to all Division I and II members, and scholarship limits in the sport are the same in both divisions. The Big West regular season for men's volleyball will be double round-robin, each team playing the others once at home and once on the road. The Big West Tournament will have all six teams participate in single-elimination rounds with the top two teams receiving semifinal byes.
The Big West is the first Division I all-sports conference (defined as a league that sponsors men's and women's basketball) ever to sponsor men's volleyball, and the second NCAA all-sports conference overall to sponsor men's volleyball as a scholarship sport (the first was the Division II Conference Carolinas).
On November 26, 2017 the Big West announced that they will add UC San Diego along with Cal State Bakersfield as its 10th and 11th members starting on July 1, 2020. Cal State Bakersfield, who are already a full Division I school and are currently competing in the Western Athletic Conference will become a full member effective July 1, 2020. UC San Diego who had failed to move up from Division II in its failed bids to the Big West in 2011 and April 2017 will go through the four year transition process to Division I and will become a full member effective July 1, 2024. UC San Diego's men's volleyball will be a member of the Big West starting with the 2018 season and their women's water polo will be a member starting in 2019.
|Track and Field (Outdoor)|
Men's sponsored sports by school
|Track & Field|
|Cal Poly||Big Sky||MPSF||Independent||No||Pac-12|
|Cal State Northridge||No||No||MPSF||No||No|
|Long Beach State||No||No||MPSF||GCC||No|
|UC Davis||Big Sky||No||No||WWPA||No|
|UC Santa Barbara||No||MPSF||Independent||GCC||No|
Women's sponsored sports by school
- Affiliate members CSU Bakersfield and Sacramento State, with CSU Bakersfield becoming a full conference member in 2020.
- Affiliate member UC San Diego for the 2019–20 school year only, after which it will be a full Big West member.
|School||Field Hockey||Gymnastics||Lacrosse||Sailing||Swimming |
|Track & Field|
|Cal State Fullerton||No||No||No||No||No||MPSF|
|Cal State Northridge||No||No||No||No||No||MPSF|
|Long Beach State||No||No||No||No||No||MPSF|
|UC Davis||America East||MPSF||MPSF||No||MPSF||Independent|
|UC Santa Barbara||No||No||No||No||MPSF||Independent|
Future members CSU Bakersfield and UC San Diego in gray.
Started during the Big West Conference's 1998–99 season, the Commissioner's Cup is awarded yearly to the most outstanding program over the course of the season in the conference's sponsored sports. The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos are the most successful team to date having won 9 total trophies.
|Total points||Average||Title #|
|2000–01||UC Santa Barbara Gauchos||16||870||54.4||1|
|2001–02||UC Santa Barbara Gauchos||16||2,020||126.3||2|
|2002–03||UC Santa Barbara Gauchos||16||2,070||129.4||3|
|2003–04||UC Santa Barbara Gauchos||16||2,210||138.1||4|
|2004–05||UC Santa Barbara Gauchos||16||2,180||136.3||5|
|2005–06||Long Beach State 49ers||13||1,640||126.2||1|
|2006–07||UC Santa Barbara Gauchos||16||1,800||112.5||6|
|2007–08||UC Santa Barbara Gauchos||16||2,046||127.9||7|
|2008–09||Long Beach State 49ers||14||1,540||110.0||2|
|2009–10||UC Santa Barbara Gauchos||17||1,970||115.9||8|
|2010–11||Long Beach State 49ers||14||1,830||130.7||3|
|2011–12||Long Beach State 49ers||14||1,960||140.0||4|
|2012–13||Long Beach State 49ers||14||1,950||139.3||5|
|2013–14||Long Beach State 49ers||14||1,740||124.3||6|
|2014–15||Long Beach State 49ers||14||1,640||117.1||7|
|2015–16||UC Santa Barbara Gauchos||15||2,006.7||133.8||9|
|2016–17||Long Beach State 49ers||15||1,750||116.7||8|
|2017–18||Cal State Fullerton Titans||14||1,635||116.8||1|
|2018–19||UC Santa Barbara Gauchos||16||1,930||120.6||10|
- "California Colleges Form New Conference". The San Bernardino Sun. San Bernardino, California. June 11, 1968. Retrieved December 2, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Pickard, Don (June 18, 1968). "Cal State PCAA Entry Being Probed". The Independent. Pasadena, California. Retrieved December 2, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- "New league being formed". Redlands Daily Facts. Redlands, California. October 18, 1968. Retrieved December 2, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
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- Dhillon, Jagdip (March 29, 2012). "Tigers back 'home'". The Record. Stockton, California. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
- "About The Big West Conference". Big West Conference. Archived from the original on August 10, 2001. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
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- "MEN'S SOCCER JOINS BIG WEST CONFERENCE". Sacramento State Hornets. July 5, 2012. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
- "SAND VOLLEYBALL TO JOIN THE BIG WEST CONFERENCE". Sacramento State Hornets. June 26, 2015. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
- "CSUB Sand Volleyball Finds A Conference Home". Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners. June 26, 2015. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
- "Preseason Poll Released for UC San Diego's Milestone 25th and Final Year in MPSF". UC San Diego Tritons. December 12, 2016. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
- "UC San Diego makes it official: It's joining Div. I, Big West". San Diego Union-Tribune. November 27, 2017. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
- Arkansas State joined the conference for football in 1993, left to become an independent after the 1995–1996 season, then re-joined in 1999, only to leave again after the 2000–2001 season.
- "Big West Conference Makes Men's Volleyball 18th Sponsored Sport". Big West Conference. May 31, 2016. Archived from the original on June 11, 2016. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
- "College World Series: Everything you need to know about Cal State Fullerton". NCAA.com. 2017-06-14. Retrieved 2017-08-04.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2016-03-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)/story.asp?story_id=19222
- "Archived copy". Retrieved 2017-11-30.
- Big West Football. Web.archive.org. Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
- Big West Conference. Web.archive.org. Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
- "The Mike and Arlene Walter Pyramid". California State University, Long Beach. Retrieved February 12, 2012.
- "Area Notebook: Long Beach State captures fourth straight BWC Comissioner's[sic] Cup". Press-Telegram. Long Beach, California. May 28, 2014. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
- "UC Santa Barbara Claims First Commissioner's Cup In Six Years". Big West Conference. Retrieved December 1, 2016.