The West Coast Conference – Risk & Reward

Imagine Pacific University rolling into Denver to play beach volleyball – the fastest-growing NCAA sport with 50 colleges and universities playing as of January 2015. Or picture DU cross country runners training over at Washington park, getting ready for the December NCAA championships. What about heading across I-25 to a refurbished South High Stadium to watch the Pios take on BYU in baseball or watch women’s softball against San Francisco? On a sunny fall day, how about heading out to Cherry Creek to watch a women’s collegiate rowing meet with BYU, Portland and Santa Clara?

In addition to DU’s current sports offerings, these are the additional sports that DU would have to sponsor to join the West Coast Conference. There is no doubt that this move would transform the University’s athletics programs, elevate DU’s visibility regionally and nationally. and align the DU with more “like minded” universities.

It would come with a cost, though.

DU’s  golf, soccer, tennis and volleyball would remain unchanged in the WCC while lacrosse, hockey and gymnastics would continue with their current conference affiliation.

A move like this would add to DU’s already high travel costs, scholarships numbers, and facilities cost. The question is: Could or would the University be willing to take on this challenge in exchange for the visibility and potential revenue offsets of some of the new sports. Could DU sell-out beach volleyball? Yes. Cross Country and rowing – No. Baseball and softball – maybe. Would it elevate some of our current sports such as basketball, volleyball, and soccer – definitely. Would it increase non-scholarship student applications, particularly from the west? Likely.

Of course, if the WCC is willing to add DU, the Pioneers could seek relief by not adding one or two of the most costly new sports. Most conferences do not require participation in all sports.

Ten ‘peer’ schools figured it out – BYU, Portland, Loyola Marymount, Gonzaga, Pacific, Pepperdine, St. Mary’s, San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Clara. That means DU could as well.

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