Big West Conference

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Big West Conference
Big West Conference logo
Established 1969
Association NCAA
Division Division I non-football
Members 9
Sports fielded 16 (men's: 7; women's: 9)
Region West Coast
Former names Pacific Coast Athletic Association
Headquarters Irvine, California
Commissioner Dennis Farrell (since 1992)
Big West Conference locations

The Big West Conference (BWC) is a mid-major collegiate athletic conference affiliated with NCAA Division I. When the conference began in 1969, its name was the Pacific Coast Athletic Association (PCAA). After nineteen years, in 1988, its name was changed to the Big West Conference.[1] The conference stopped sponsoring college football after the 2000 season.


Creation of the Pacific Coast Athletic Association[edit]

The Big West Conference was formed on July 1, 1969, as the Pacific Coast Athletic Association. The charter all-sports members of the PCAA were Cal State Los Angeles, Fresno State, Long Beach State, San Diego State, San Jose State, and UC Santa Barbara. The University of the Pacific joined only for football, becoming an all-sports member two years later.[2]

Four of these charter members (Cal State Los Angeles, Fresno State, Long Beach State, and San Diego State) had previously been members of the nation's premier Division II conference, the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA). After capturing multiple national championships, the members sought a higher level of play, which could be found within the university ranks. Charter football member Pacific and charter all-sports members San Jose State and UC Santa Barbara had also been CCAA members in the past, but had moved to the West Coast Athletic Conference (now West Coast Conference) before joining the PCAA.

The seven schools formally met in May 1969 and finalized the creation of the PCAA less than two months later.


Since its inception as the Pacific Coast Athletic Association, the conference has seen many changes throughout the years. Utah State was the first institution outside of California to join the conference in 1978. This opened the floodgates for many other schools to affiliate with the PCAA; notable schools include UNLV, Nevada, Louisiana Tech, and Boise State, among others.

Big West Conference Sports
  • Baseball - men's
  • Basketball - men's and women's
  • Cross Country - men's and women's
  • Golf - men's and women's
  • Soccer - men's and women's
  • Softball - women's
  • Tennis - men's and women's
  • Track & Field - men's and women's
  • Volleyball - women's
  • Water Polo - women's

In 1983, the PCAA became the first western conference to introduce women's athletic programs, giving the opportunity for all its members to have their women student-athletes compete at the same level as their male counterparts. This proved vital for Hawaiʻi as their only participation in the conference was for their women's sports.

However, turnover of universities started to take its toll. Many left to join conferences that were perceived as more well-known, such as the Western Athletic Conference or the Mountain West Conference, while others did not see the benefit of travel since historically many of the teams have been California-based. From the departures of Idaho and Utah State in 2005 until the arrival of Hawaiʻi in 2012, all members were based in California, reducing both the cost and travel time between the universities. When Hawaiʻi joined, it agreed to help defray a portion of travel costs to that state for the league's California members. Between full and associate members, there have been no fewer than 25 members in the conference's history, while only two of the original seven charter members remain (Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara).

The change to the Big West[edit]

To mark its 20th year as an athletic conference, in 1988 the Pacific Coast Athletic Association decided to change its name to the Big West Conference. The move signaled the changing landscape within the conference. With such schools as Utah State, UNLV, Nevada, New Mexico State, and Hawaii now in the fold, the name change was more representative of the population. In addition, the conference had signed a contract with ESPN to have its men's basketball games telecast as the third game of a triple header known as "Big Monday" - the other conferences being featured were the Big East and the Big 12 so the name Big West fit the "big" theme. Despite the eventual departure of all non-California based teams, the widely known "Big West Conference" name has remained constant.


Current members[edit]

Institution Nickname Location Founded Type Enrollment Joined NCAA Team
California Polytechnic State University
(Cal Poly San Luis Obispo)
Mustangs San Luis Obispo, California 1901 Public (California State University system) 19,777 1996 1
California State University, Fullerton
Titans Fullerton, California 1957 Public (California State University system) 38,996 1974 4
California State University, Northridge
(Cal State Northridge)
Matadors Northridge, California 1958 Public (California State University system) 36,207 2001 0
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Rainbow Warriors
Rainbow Wahine
Honolulu, Hawaii 1907 Public (University of Hawaiʻi system) 20,435 2012 3
California State University, Long Beach
(Long Beach State)
49ers Long Beach, California 1949 Public (California State University system) 37,890 1969 4
University of California, Davis
(UC Davis)
Aggies Davis, California 1908 Public (University of California system) 31,426 2007 1
University of California, Irvine
(UC Irvine)
Anteaters Irvine, California 1965 Public (University of California system) 27,631 1977 7
University of California, Riverside
(UC Riverside)
Highlanders Riverside, California 1954 Public (University of California system) 20,746 2001 0
University of California, Santa Barbara
(UC Santa Barbara)
Gauchos Santa Barbara, California 1905 Public (University of California system) 20,559 1969,
  • Division I Champions

Affiliate members[edit]

Institution Nickname Location Founded Type Enrollment Joined NCAA Team
Primary Conference Big West
California State University, Sacramento
(Sacramento State)
Hornets Sacramento, California 1947 Public (California State University system) 24,388 2012 0 Big Sky Men's soccer

Former members[edit]

Many of the former members of the Big West are now members of either the Western Athletic Conference or the Mountain West Conference. Of the nine schools that were in the WAC before the 2010–13 conference realignment, only Hawaii has not spent some time in the Big West as a football participant – it was a Big West member only in women's sports. Of all the former members, Cal State Los Angeles is the only team that reverted to Division II level.

School names and nicknames reflect those used by the institutions when they were Big West members. One school has changed its name (Southwestern Louisiana, now Louisiana–Lafayette) and one its nickname (Arkansas State, from Indians to Red Wolves).

Former full members[edit]

Institution Nickname Location Founded Type Enrollment Joined Left Current Conference
Boise State University Broncos Boise, Idaho 1932 Public 22,678 1996 2001 Mountain West
California State University, Fresno
(Fresno State)
Bulldogs Fresno, California 1911 Public 22,565 1969 1992 Mountain West
California State University, Los Angeles Golden Eagles Los Angeles, California 1947 Public 20,619 1969 1974 CCAA
(NCAA Division II)
University of Idaho Vandals Moscow, Idaho 1889 Public 11,180 1996 2005 WAC (Big Sky in 2014)
University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Rebels Las Vegas, Nevada 1957 Public 28,203 1982 1996 Mountain West
University of Nevada, Reno Wolf Pack Reno, Nevada 1874 Public 18,227 1992 2000 Mountain West
New Mexico State University Aggies Las Cruces, New Mexico 1888 Public 18,497 1983 2000 WAC
University of North Texas Mean Green Denton, Texas 1890 Public 35,778 1996 2000 C-USA
San Diego State University Aztecs San Diego, California 1897 Public 28,789 1969 1978 Mountain West
San Jose State University Spartans San Jose, California 1857 Public 30,448 1969 1996 Mountain West
Utah State University Aggies Logan, Utah 1888 Public 28,796 1978 2005 Mountain West
University of the Pacific Tigers Stockton, California 1851 Type 6,296 1969 (football-only);
1971 (all sports)
2013 WCC

Former football-only members[edit]

Institution Nickname Location Founded Type Enrollment Joined Left Primary Conference
at the time of joining
Big West football
Current Conference
Arkansas State University[4] Indians Jonesboro, Arkansas 1909 Public 13,438 1993,
Sun Belt
Louisiana Tech University Bulldogs Ruston, Louisiana 1894 Public 11,581 1993 1996 Sun Belt C-USA
Northern Illinois University Huskies DeKalb, Illinois 1895 Public 25,313 1993 1996 Summit MAC
University of Southwestern Louisiana* Ragin' Cajuns Lafayette, Louisiana 1898 Public 16,885 1993 1996 Sun Belt

* - Currently known as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Membership timeline[edit]

California State University, Sacramento University of California, Davis University of California, Riverside California State University, Northridge California Polytechnic State University Big Sky Conference Western Athletic Conference University of Idaho Mountain West Conference Western Athletic Conference Boise State University Conference USA Sun Belt Conference University of North Texas Sun Belt Conference Sun Belt Conference Arkansas State University Sun Belt Conference University of Louisiana at Lafayette Mid-American Conference Horizon League Northern Illinois University Conference USA Western Athletic Conference Sun Belt Conference Louisiana Tech University Mountain West Conference Western Athletic Conference University of Nevada, Reno Western Athletic Conference University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Western Athletic Conference Sun Belt Conference New Mexico State University Mountain West Conference Western Athletic Conference University of Nevada, Las Vegas Mountain West Conference Western Athletic Conference Utah State University University of California, Irvine California State University, Fullerton California State University, Long Beach University of California, Santa Barbara West Coast Conference University of the Pacific (United States) Mountain West Conference Western Athletic Conference San Jose State University Mountain West Conference Western Athletic Conference California State University, Fresno Mountain West Conference Western Athletic Conference San Diego State University California Collegiate Athletic Association California State University, Los Angeles

Full members Full members (non-football) Assoc. members (football only) Assoc. member (list sports) Other Conference Other Conference

Locations of Big West Conference full member institutions.


  • UC Santa Barbara was an independent from 1974–1976.


The Big West sponsors championship competition in seven men's and nine women's NCAA sanctioned sports:[5]

Teams in Big West Conference competition
Sport Men's Women's
Cross Country
Track and Field (Outdoor)
Water polo

The Big West is strong in several sports. Men's Baseball/Women's Softball and Women's Volleyball have been the strongest historically. Cal State Fullerton has won 4 College World Series in 1979, 1984, 1995, and 2004. Cal State Fullerton also has won an NCAA Championship in Women's Softball winning the conference's only title in 1984. Long Beach State has won 5 Women's Volleyball championships in 1972, 1973, 1989, 1993, 1998, the last three being NCAA sanctioned titles. In 1998 Misty May-Treanor led the 49ers to a 36-0 record en route to the program's most recent title. Pacific won back to back Women's Volleyball titles in 1985 and 1986.

The Big West has also become competitive in Men's Volleyball. Long Beach State won the first NCAA title for the conference in 1991 while UC Irvine has created a dynasty for itself recently. They are the defending Men's Volleyball Champions (2012) and have also won championships in 2007 & 2009.

Water Polo is also a strength for the conference with four NCAA championships won. UC Irvine won three national championships (1970, 1982 & 1989) in Men's Water Polo while UC Santa Barbara won a title in Men's Water Polo in 1979.

The current members of the Big West have won a total of nineteen NCAA national championships including UC Santa Barbara’s most recent Men’s Soccer Championship in 2006. The conference has won a total of twenty NCAA titles counting the UNLV College Basketball Championship when they were a member of the Big West back in 1990 after defeating Duke 103-73.



Men's Basketball[edit]

The most recent winner of the Big West Conference Tournament is Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (2014), who won the tournament as the number 7 seed.

Women's Basketball[edit]


An asterisk denotes the participant in the bowls that invited the Big West champion:
Pasadena (1969–70), California (1981–91), Las Vegas (1992–96), and Humanitarian (1997–2000)[6]

Football Champions
Year University
1969 San Diego State*
1970 Long Beach State* & San Diego State
1971 Long Beach State
1972 San Diego State
1973 San Diego State
1974 San Diego State
1975 San Jose State
1976 San Jose State
1977 Fresno State
1978 San Jose State and Utah State
1979 Utah State
1980 Long Beach State
1981 San Jose State*
1982 Fresno State*
1983 Cal State Fullerton*
1984 Cal State Fullerton (UNLV* forfeited)
1985 Fresno State*
1986 San Jose State*
1987 San Jose State*
1988 Fresno State*
1989 Fresno State*
1990 San Jose State*
1991 Fresno State* & San Jose State
1992 Nevada*
1993 Utah State* & Southwestern La.
1994 UNLV*, Southwestern La., & Nevada
1995 Nevada*
1996 Nevada* & Utah State
1997 Utah State* & Nevada
1998 Idaho*
1999 Boise State*
2000 Boise State*

The Big West Conference discontinued football following the 2000 season.[7]


School Basketball Arena Capacity Baseball Stadium Capacity Soccer Stadium Capacity
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Mott Gym 3,032 Robin Baggett Stadium 1,734 Alex G. Spanos Stadium 11,075
Cal State Fullerton Titan Gym 4,000 Goodwin Field 3,500 Titan Stadium 10,000
Cal State Northridge Matadome 1,600 Matador Field 1,000 Matador Soccer Field' 1,550
Hawaiʻi Stan Sheriff Center 10,300 Les Murakami Stadium 4,312 Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium 4,500
Long Beach State Walter Pyramid 5,000[8] Blair Field 3,238 George Allen Field 1,000
Sacramento State Men's Soccer Member Only Hornet Field 1,500
UC Davis The Pavilion 7,600 Dobbins Baseball Complex 3,500 Aggie Field 1,000
UC Irvine Bren Events Center 4,984 Cicerone Field 2,900 Anteater Stadium 2,500
UC Riverside UC Riverside Student Recreation Center 3,168 Riverside Sports Complex 2,500 UCR Soccer Stadium 900
UC Santa Barbara UCSB Events Center (the Thunderdome) 5,600 Caesar Uyesaka Stadium 1,000 Harder Stadium 17,000


  1. ^
  2. ^ Dhillon, Jagdip (March 29, 2012). "Tigers back 'home'". The Record (Stockton, California). Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  3. ^ UC Santa Barbara joined the conference when it was founded in 1969, left to become an independent after the 1973–74 season, then rejoined in the 1976-77 season.
  4. ^ Arkansas State joined the conference for football in 1993, left to become an independent after the 1995–1996 season, then re-joined in 1999, only to leave again after the 2000–2001 season.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Big West Football. Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
  7. ^ Big West Conference. Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
  8. ^ "The Mike and Arlene Walter Pyramid". California State University, Long Beach. Retrieved February 12, 2012. 

External links[edit]