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If CSUN, CSLA Go Away, CCAA Just Might, Too

November 25, 1986|MIKE HISERMAN | Times Staff Writer

The news that Cal State Northridge had taken the first step toward a move to Division I in athletics came as no great surprise to other members of the Division II California Collegiate Athletic Assn.

Administrators from CCAA schools said Northridge had informed conference schools in a meeting last month that it was studying the feasibility of such a move.

Northridge physical education instructors and coaches voted unanimously last Friday to recommend that the university step up to Division I status in every sport but football.

University President James W. Cleary is expected to receive the formal proposal today from Sam Winningham, chairman of physical education and athletics.

Northridge will have to conform to Division I academic and scheduling standards before it could make the move. The school must be in compliance with those guidelines for three years before it could be Division I.

Northridge is one of three CCAA members that have taken steps toward becoming Division I.

Cal State Los Angeles is in the midst of following a five-year plan that should have its athletic programs meeting Division I standards by the fall of 1987. UC Riverside has informed CCAA members that it is studying a similar move.

"The thought of two out of the six teams in the conference possibily leaving scared me to death," said Bob Hiegert, Northridge's athletic director. The CCAA is an eight-team conference in basketball, but it has only six teams in several other sports. Six teams is the NCAA minimum for a conference.

"The expectation of being able to pick up that many schools at the Division II level in Southern California is minimal," Hiegert said.

Tom Morgan, CCAA comissioner, said replacements will not be considered until the schools give formal notice that they are leaving the conference.

Northridge's move must still be approved by Cleary, although that is expected. Cal State L.A. needs an OK from its academic senate. It expects to gain approval by June. Chancellor Theodore L. Huller is expected to make a decision on the fate of Riverside's sports programs around the first of next year.

"When and if it happens, we'll attack it," Morgan said. "We've had schools move in and out before. We'll survive."

Administrators at several of the conference's schools weren't so confident.

"If those three schools do leave the conference, it will certainly have a great impact," said Marilyn McNeil, assistant athletic director at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. "I don't think anyone would like to see the CCAA disband."

Chris Rinne, Riverside's athletic director, said Cal State L.A.'s announcement of its Division I intent last spring started other conference schools investigating a similar move.

"The schools interested have fed off each other to some extent," Rinne said. "Having a Division I conference to move in to is certainly a critical issue. Going Division I as an independent doesn't make much sense unless you're Notre Dame and can afford it."

Cal State Bakersfield could be the next CCAA member to announce Division I intentions. Roger Fessler, associate athletic director, said the school is putting together a five-year plan for university President Thomas Arciniega to consider.

"As more schools leave the CCAA, there's the question of replacing them or looking at other options," Fessler said. "We want to consider all of our possibilities."

Spokesmen at Cal Poly Pomona, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Cal State Dominguez Hills said their schools were not considering a move to Division I. Walter Bowman, the athletic director at Chapman College, was unavailable for comment.

Cal State Long Beach, Fresno State, San Jose State, Santa Barbara and the University of Pacific--members of the Division I Pacific Coast Athletic Assn.--at one time belonged to the CCAA, as did San Diego State.

"Those are the schools we think we belong with," Hiegert said. "People think of you going against the UCLAs and USCs when you talk about playing at the Division I level, but that is not our intent at all."

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