|Chapman was one of two remaining Division III independents in Southern California, and its teams play many games against SCIAC opponents already.|
The Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference announced today that Chapman has been accepted as the ninth member of the league, beginning with the 2011-12 academic year. It's the first expansion for the conference since California Lutheran joined in 1991.
The move continues recent conference consolidation in Division III, and in the sport of basketball, contributes to the shrinking of Pool B that accelerated this past season with automatic bids for the NECC and UMAC and this offseason with LaGrange and Piedmont moving to the USA South.
“The SCIAC is thrilled to welcome Chapman University into the conference,” stated Lorin Huffman, SCIAC executive director. “The outstanding academic, athletic, and leadership qualities at Chapman provide an excellent fit with the current membership and the league’s long tradition of excellence in academics and athletics.”
Membership will take effect on July 1, 2011, and in its first year, Chapman will be ineligible to qualify for league championships. During the transition period, the Panthers will be eligible to qualify solely for at-large bids (Pool C) into NCAA Championships.
The transition year for a school that is already a fully eligible member of NCAA Division III is unusual. "The SCIAC has traditionally been more restrictive than the NCAA with recruiting and playing and practice seasons. To ensure compliance with SCIAC rules and since precedent was set in our league to not permit a first-year member access to conference championships, the 'grace period' was established," Huffman explained.
The SCIAC Presidents Council unanimously approved the membership invitation that was formally extended on May 6. James L. Doti, Chapman president, accepted the invitation on behalf of the institution. “We accept with a great deal of pride this invitation to join SCIAC – we believe that Chapman can be highly competitive in the conference, and we greatly look forward to membership in this exemplary athletic association.”
Throughout the application process, which was initiated in the fall, the governing bodies of the SCIAC solicited feedback from all constituent groups including presidents, athletic administrators, faculty, coaches, and student-athletes.
“The acceptance of Chapman is a major milestone for the SCIAC,” said Huffman. “This decision will enhance the league and its member institutions, and we look forward to a long and successful relationship promoting Division III athletics in Southern California.”
David Currey, Chapman’s director of athletics, who oversaw the program's transition to the Division III level in 1994, was delighted to receive the invitation. “This is a historic day in the life of our intercollegiate athletics program at Chapman. We're joining a conference that boasts some of the top-ranked academic institutions in the country. This is an opportunity that will benefit our university and student athletes for years to come."
The SCIAC currently conducts championship competition in 20 sports (10 women and 10 men) and will increase sport sponsorship to 21 with the addition of women’s golf next year. Chapman offers varsity programs in 17 of those sports (eight men and nine women) and over the course of the next five years will be expected to add varsity intercollegiate programs in men’s track and field, men’s swimming and diving, women’s lacrosse, and women’s golf.
The Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference was established in 1915. The league is currently comprised of eight private colleges and universities in Southern California: Caltech, California Lutheran, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, La Verne, Occidental, Pomona-Pitzer, Redlands and Whittier.