“The timing of this D-I move couldn’t be better,” said Chancellor Pradeep Khosla. “It will significantly increase our visibility and align us with similar institutions…It will enhance our sense of community and involvement.”
He said the move confirms UC San Diego’s status as “one of the globe’s most influential universities — right here in San Diego.”
Mayor Kevin Faulconer joined Khosla in making the announcement. “What a great day for the university, and what a great day for San Diego,” he said.
The Tritons will be the 10th institution in the Big West Conference, which includes UCs Irvine, Riverside, Santa Barbara and Davis; Cal State University branches in Long Beach, Fullerton and Northridge; Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and the University of Hawaii.
Athletic Director Earl Edwards vowed that the university “will begin this journey to Division I by doing it the right way,” improving the overall student experience and involving alumni. “Athletics is much more than just games and competitions,” he said.
With the move up from Division II, UCSD becomes the third local Division I school after San Diego State University and the University of San Diego.
The process to explore Division I membership began in May of last year when students voted to raise fees to support the transition from Division II. The change took another big step in January, when the Academic Senate voted to approve the move after conducting a months-long investigative process that included reports from five different committees.
UCSD consistently ranks highly in lists of top universities in the U.S. and the world, but a school often receives its greatest visibility and identity on the courts and fields. Triton sports have generally been very competitive in Division II over the years, including three straight national championships and three appearances in the finals in women’s soccer.
The Tritons will begin a full Big West competitive slate in the 2020-21 academic year. UCSD currently fields teams in 13 sports, including men’s and women’s basketball, cross country, fencing, rowing, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball and water polo. It also fields baseball and softball teams as well as men’s golf but does not have a football team. The Big West is a non-football conference, though some of its members field Division II football teams.
The planned rise would leave Cal State San Marcos, which recently made a move up, and Point Loma Nazarene University as the two college’s in San Diego County competing in Division II.
City News Service contributed to this article.
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