GSAC alters lineup

Three more schools shift to NCAA Division II, leaving Vanguard with six other holdovers and Arizona Christian.

July 26, 2012|By Barry Faulkner
  • Vanguard University will no longer compete against Azusa Pacific, which has left the Golden State Athletic Confernce for the NCAA Divison II ranks. Here: Molly Pfohl, foreground left, scores against Cougars in 2010.
Vanguard University will no longer compete against Azusa… (MARK DUSTIN, Daily…)

Vanguard University Athletic Director Bob Wilson said the positives outnumber negatives when it comes to the reformation of the Golden State Athletic Conference, and increased conference championship opportunities for the Lions are foremost among the former.

After the 2011-12 school year, Azusa Pacific, Fresno Pacific and Point Loma Nazarene left the conference to join the NCAA Division II ranks, just as former GSAC member Cal Baptist did one year earlier.

The seven remaining GSAC schools — Vanguard, Biola, Concordia, Hope International, San Diego Christian, The Master's and Westmont — will be joined by incoming member Arizona Christian in an eight-team alliance beginning in 2012-13.

"We don't like that those schools left, because we had a great tradition and camaraderie with those schools, and I think those schools feel the same way," Wilson said. "But I think structurally, in terms of operational budgets and in terms of scholarship allotments, the eight schools that remain are closer to one another."


Since the conference was established in 1986, GSAC members have won 23 NAIA team championships in seven women's sports and 18 national team titles in five men's sports. Of the combined 41 team national championships won by the conference, 32 were claimed by the four recent defectors.

Azusa Pacific won 13 men's and seven women's team NAIA titles, while Fresno Pacific amassed a combined total of nine.

Only Vanguard (women's basketball in 2008), Concordia (men's basketball in 2012 and 2013, baseball in 2011 and women's cross country in 2000), and Westmont (women's soccer in 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2003) have won NAIA titles among the current conference members.

"I think the stance [among the remaining conference members] is that the teams that have left demonstrated a lot of competitive excellence, winning championships and being able to compete at a high level nationally," Wilson said. "I think the conference will still be viewed from that perspective nationally, though there will probably be fewer of our teams in the [postseason]. If you are good enough to be competitive in our conference, you're good enough to compete nationally."

Going from a 10-team conference to an eight-team conference will have ramifications when it comes to qualifying for NAIA postseason competition.

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