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Cal Lutheran Sees New Hope in New League

February 19, 1986|GARY KLEIN

Cal Lutheran University wants recognition. The Master's College is in need of organization. Biola University? It is still trying to figure out what it wants to do.

Those were reasons given Tuesday by the respective schools for their decisions on joining the newly formed Golden State Athletic Conference, which was formally announced at a press conference at Azusa Pacific University.

As it turned out, Cal Lutheran joined the new National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics conference, while The Master's elected not to. Biola is still thinking about it.

The six-member conference will begin competition in the fall of 1986. In addition to Cal Lutheran, schools joining Tuesday were Azusa Pacific, Westmont College, Southern California College, Fresno Pacific College and Point Loma Nazarene College.

The new conference will award championships in men's and women's basketball, baseball, women's volleyball, women's soccer, men's and women's cross-country, men's and women's tennis and men's and women's track and field. Conference champions will automatically qualify for postseason competition.

The participating schools had previously competed in the NAIA District III, a conference of independents that was set up more for convenience than for anything else.

"We're the only NAIA district that has had no formal conferences," said Cliff Hamlow, athletic director at Azusa Pacific and chairman of District III, which covers California and Nevada. "At the end of the various seasons, it caused problems in regard to playoff participants and selection committees."

Because there were no scheduling restrictions placed on District III schools and no real conference to crown a champion, selection of postseason participants was often a subjective decision made by committee.

Those problems weren't limited to the postseason. Some schools played one sport as a member of the district's Southern Division and other sports as a member of the Northern Division.

"With a paper conference we weren't getting much recognition," said Cal Lutheran Athletic Director Robert Doering. "There were no rivalries developing because students, faculty and alumni never knew what division we would be playing in."

The Master's College was extended an invitation to join the conference in November, but declined because of a reorganization that is taking place within all departments of the school.

"We're in a major transition right now," said John Stead, vice president of academic affairs at The Master's. "We're in such a state of flux in all areas. The time frame was so short. We didn't feel a six-week period was sufficient to define our own objectives much less make a commitment to the conference."

Stead said that the college would re-evaluate its position next year. John Zeller, The Master's athletic director and baseball coach, agreed with that plan.

"We're in the process of building right now," Zeller said. "We just don't feel right now that we're at a state where we could be competitive with established schools like those that accepted the invitation. We want to build to get to that point. Then we'll think about joining."

Plans for the conference--which have been discussed off and on since the 1960s--were also formalized so member schools could get more consistent scheduling and a regular policy in regard to scholarships. Basketball programs, for example, will be limited to a 30-game schedule and can offer institutional funds equaling up to 10 tuition scholarships.

Member schools must field a minimum number of intercollegiate teams based on their enrollments. Schools with more than 1,100 students must field teams in 10 sports. Those with enrollments of more than 900 must field nine sports and the rest of the schools required teams are calculated by using a sliding scale. That requirement forced Fresno Pacific to begin a men's and women's cross-country program to qualify.

Golden State conference athletic directors are still waiting to hear from Biola.

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