UC San Diego announced Monday the university has accepted an invitation to join the Big West Conference, paving the way for a Division-1 athletics program.
“We are pleased and honored to accept the Big West Conference invitation to join its ranks,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “We believe that this move will enhance the overall student experience at UC San Diego and heighten our sense of community and school pride. It also demonstrates our commitment to uncompromising excellence across the board.”
Students at UC San Diego voted in 2016 to approve a fee increase to fund a D-1 athletics program and the faculty followed suit in early 2017.
“Elevation to NCAA Division I athletics is a reflection of UC San Diego’s culture of risk-taking, collaboration and innovation,” said UC San Diego Director of Athletics Earl W. Edwards. “Aligning with peer institutions and competing at the highest levels in all endeavors is one of the reasons for the transition to Division I. We are extremely excited to be joining the Big West Conference with their strong history of success in a broad base of sports.”
The UC San Diego Tritons will begin a full Big West competitive slate in the 2020-21 academic year, university officials said Monday.
"The students and administration at UC San Diego have done a remarkable job in positioning their university for reclassification to NCAA Division I and membership in the Big West Conference. The university's academic and athletic profiles are closely aligned with those of Division I institutions and thus UC San Diego will be a marvelous addition to the Big West Conference. It's a real honor for the Big West to welcome such a prestigious academic institution to the family," said Big West Commissioner Dennis Farrell.
The Big West Conference also added another university, Cal-State Bakersfield, bringing its total number of member institutions to 11.
The Big West currently consists of:
Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo
Long Beach State
UC Santa Barbara
UC San Diego
The move to Division 1 is expected to take up to six years to complete. There is an NCAA-mandated 4-year reclassification period.
Once that's complete, it's likely UC San Diego will be eligible for all Big West Championships in NCAA Division I sports in Fall 2024.
The Tritons will have to get their funding for athletic scholarships up to the proper level and several sports schedules have been decided for years out. Some sports will likely be able to move up sooner than others.
The Tritons have had multiple sports, including men’s and women’s basketball, softball, baseball, men’s and women’s soccer, and men’s and women’s water polo compete in the Division II NCAA Tournament in recent years.