When Cal State San Bernardino started its intercollegiate athletic program in 1984, Athletic Director Reginald Price hoped that the school could be competitive in most sports within five years.
The program is advancing well ahead of schedule.
Early in its fourth year of competing as a Division III independent in the National Collegiate Athletic Assn., San Bernardino is already making a national impact in three sports and posting winning records in most others.
Last year, the Coyotes posted winning records in all 11 sports in which they competed, including a fourth-place finish in Division III in men's golf and a playoff berth in women's volleyball.
It's a record that brings a smile to Price's face.
"That's something that I don't think a lot of schools (in Division III) can say," Price said. "I don't know if we can duplicate that again this year."
So far, it looks like another successful year for the Coyotes, who have two teams ranked in the top 10 in Division III. The men's soccer team is ranked seventh with a 13-1-3 record, having lost only to Division I power San Diego State, and the women's volleyball team is ranked eighth with a 31-6 record.
The rapid success of the program may surprise some people, but not Price.
"I'm pleased but certainly not surprised," he said. "We have a lot of good athletes who live in the Inland Empire area here, and I thought we had enough to field a competitive program. I credit that and the coaching staff for the success of our teams."
The school had been in existence for 19 years before the decision was made to start an intercollegiate athletic program in 1984.
The program started with four men's and four women's sports. San Bernardino added men's golf in 1985, baseball and women's softball last year and water polo and men's and women's swimming this season. Price said the school will add women's soccer in 1988 to bring the total of sports offered to 15.
"That's a lot of sports to add in five years," he said. "Most schools are dropping sports at this time. We're going in the other direction."
Price said San Bernardino would like to add men's and women's track but that probably will not happen until at least 1990 because it does not have a facility yet.
He said that the Coyotes have also been trying to affiliate with a Division III conference. "The natural conference to get into would be the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference," Price said. "But at this point, they haven't been too receptive."
Considering the growth of the school and the Inland Empire, there is also the possibility that the program may outgrow the Division III level by the 1990s. The school has increased its enrollment by nearly 50% to about 8,300 students since the intercollegiate athletic program started.
"We've increased about 10% to 12% a year for the last four years," Price said. "We're probably the most rapidly growing institution in the state."
But for now, San Bernardino is content with the rapid progress of its athletic program.
"We're not looking to move up to Division II," Price said. "We're pleased with what we have, although you can never tell what's going to happen five years down the road."
It marked the end of an era when the University of La Verne defeated Claremont-Mudd in men's soccer Sunday to earn a berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs.
But it did not end without a fight. La Verne had to defeat the Stags in Sunday's Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference final, 1-0, to tie for the conference title at 10-1-1 and then beat Claremont in a tie-breaker shoot-out, 8-7, to earn an automatic berth in the Division III playoffs.
Phil Vasquez scored La Verne's only goal in the regularly scheduled game, and Tino Younger scored the team's final goal in the shoot-out.
That snapped Claremont's 55-game unbeaten streak in SCIAC play that started in 1983 after a loss to La Verne. It also ended Claremont's streak of six straight outright conference championships and five Division III playoff berths in a row.
As for La Verne, the victory sends the Leopards to the Division III playoffs for the first time, although they figure to have a difficult time in the NCAA West Regional that starts Friday at UC San Diego.
The Leopards (12-4-2) will play Cal State San Bernardino (13-1-3), ranked seventh in Division III, and San Diego will play St. Thomas of Minnesota in first-round games Friday. The winners will meet for the regional title at 1 p.m. Saturday.
College Division Notes