The Golden State Athletic Conference will lose over a third of its members before 2012, dropping from 11 schools to seven. This will greatly affect its appeal as one of the top conferences in the nation within the NAIA affiliation.
Athletic Director Bob Wilson took research findings and reported to the President’s Cabinet, which consists of all the Vice Presidents and President Carol Taylor, for the final decision. As a group, they decided that the best interest of the university is to stay in the GSAC.
The reason Vanguard decided to remain NAIA, while other GSAC schools are leaving, is mainly because the coaches wanted to stay. Of all the Vanguard sports, baseball would be best affected by the transition, strictly for competition standards and to help boost the players’ potential to be drafted. However, the sheer amount of paperwork in recruitment and practice allotment time helped influence the coaches’ choices.
The coaches and athletic department as a whole made the decision to stay in the GSAC based on the philosophical differences, budget and competition.
“The experience of going to a national tournament is much better in the NAIA. More teams are taken to the national tournament final sites in NAIA, whereas most of the national tournament competition in NCAA is done regionally. The NCAA doesn’t include any banquets,” Wilson said.
The NCAA only takes 16 teams to the final sight, whereas 32 are taken in basketball and only eight teams are taken in soccer compared to 16 in the NAIA.
“Our coaches believed it would be better for the student athletes to stay in the NAIA and have the full experience traveling to a national tournament rather than driving a few hours, losing, and that being the whole experience,” Wilson said.
The process started in spring 2009 when the Pac West Conference invited six GSAC schools to a meeting, one that Vanguard was not invited to nor did it attend. After this meeting, the GSAC schools discussed how they did not like the Pac West, but decided as a conference that it would be something they should research and discuss. A consultant was hired to discover more about what would be needed from the conference and individual schools to make this transition.
Upon first thought, the entire GSAC thought it would be able to transfer divisions as an entire conference, but after more research it was discovered that each school must individually apply and be accepted. The consultant found that Vanguard had the capability to become a NCAA school despite the school’s preconceived notion that the athletic facilities were not up to NCAA standards.
Vanguard was informed that the NCAA is more concerned with following proper protocol, including having a compliance officer on staff, having full-time coaches, a full-time administrative assistant and a large athletic budget for scholarships. This would have required Vanguard to hire a new compliance officer and transition the current part-time administrative assistant to full-time, all at a large cost to the university.
“Master’s College did a study and found it would cost their school over $1 million to make the transition,” Wilson said.
This season will mark the last year that Cal Baptist University will compete in the GSAC. The school’s aquatics, volleyball teams, and soccer programs have enjoyed great success and are looking for more competition at the next level. CBU has the largest athletic budget in the GSAC and with new, high-quality facilities, they feel like this is the best way for the school to live up to its reputation of “winning Championships.”
Other GSAC schools, including Azusa, Fresno Pacific, and Point Loma, will file for the NCAA in June 2011. Once a team is accepted into the NCAA, it must undergo a 2-year probation to be a full-time participant in the NCAA.
Despite the uncertainty of the GSAC, one thing is certain: Vanguard will remain an NAIA school for the future, while competing and winning at the highest level. The athletic department is striving to field the best teams, led by the best coaches available, all while winning the proper way.