Big West Board of Directors Approves New Initiatives at Annual Spring Meeting

IRVINE, Calif. – A lively discussion with NCAA President Charlie Baker on the nature of the ongoing transformation within intercollegiate athletics headlined the spring meeting of the Big West Board of Directors. Following the meeting with President Baker, the Board tackled a robust agenda, approving a variety of initiatives brought forth at The Big West annual Spring Council meeting, held May 23-24 in Irvine, Calif.
Adding men’s and women’s swimming and diving to the slate of conference-sponsored sports beginning in 2024-25, approval of a five-team conference championship in baseball in 2025, two basketball initiatives, providing student-athletes with a greater voice in conference governance, amending the conference’s force majeure policy and approval of an innovative budget strategy to strengthen The Big West in the long term were among the actions taken during the meeting. The Big West Board of Directors is comprised of the 11 CEOs of Big West institutions. The meeting was chaired by Gary S. May, Chancellor of the University of California, Davis.

"During this era of transformational change in intercollegiate athletics, the Big West Board of Directors has expressed a clear desire to put Big West student-athletes at the forefront of our agenda,”  Gary S. May, Chairman of the Big West Board of Directors said. “As we see the athletic landscape shifting daily, engaged conversations like the one we had with President Baker are important for us all to navigate the changes ahead. I commend our Board of Directors for continuing to look for innovative ways to increase the competitiveness of The Big West without compromising the principles that unite us all.”
    NCAA President Charlie Baker    
The Big West Board of Directors engaged in a productive conversation with President Baker on the issues that directly impact Division I intercollegiate athletics, The Big West and the student-focus important to the student-athletes at all 11 member institutions. The wide-ranging conversation touched on key topics including new Division I requirements approved by the NCAA Board of Directors in April, Congressional engagement, representation on the NCAA Division I Board of Directors, the decrease nationally in the number of officials available to work games in all sports and the recent NCAA Baseball Championship selections process.

    Adding Men’s & Women’s Swimming & Diving    
The Board of Directors approved the addition of men’s and women’s swimming and diving into The Big West, beginning in 2024-25. 
Once added, the Big West will then sponsor 23 men’s and women’s sports which is a 27% increase in sponsored sports since 2021. Announcements on swimming & diving championship formats and location are forthcoming.
    The Big West Baseball Championship    
A five-team baseball championship model, originally proposed by Big West baseball coaches as part of an initiative to improve access to and inclusion in the NCAA tournament for Big West teams, was approved by the Board of Directors. The first Big West Baseball Championship will be contested in 2025. Specifics on championship format and location will be announced later.
    Men’s & Women’s Basketball Initiatives    
In men’s and women’s basketball, the Board approved continuing with a 20-game conference schedule in which each team plays a home-and-home series with each conference opponent. The 2023-24 season will begin on December 28, 2023. Conference play features a Thursday-Saturday scheduling model with each team receiving two byes.
The Board of Directors also approved an eight-team field for the 2024 Big West Men’s & Women’s Basketball Championships scheduled for March 13-16, 2024, at The Dollar Loan Center in Henderson, Nev. The eight-team format will automatically advance the top two men’s and women’s seeds into the semifinals. The change will also make the 2024 championships a Wednesday-Saturday event. Details on ticket pricing and packaging will be announced later this summer.
“Improvement in women’s and men’s basketball remains critically important to the long-term future of The Big West,” Commissioner Butterly remarked. “Our competitive metrics are improving, and I continually hear from our coaches an interest in protecting our top seeds. With that in mind, the membership made the decision starting in 2024 to move to an eight-team format to give our regular-season champions the best opportunity to win the automatic qualification into the NCAA Basketball Championships.

    Student-Athlete Voice    
Next year Big West student-athletes will have a greater role in conference governance. Beginning in 2023-24, two student-athletes (one from a men’s sport sponsored by The Big West and one from a women’s sport sponsored by The Big West) will serve as members of the Big West Council. The Big West Council is comprised of athletic directors, senior woman administrators and faculty athletics representatives from all 11 Big West institutions.
The Board also received the results of a comprehensive experience survey completed by Big West student-athletes.
    Force Majeure Policy Amendment    
The Board of Directors approved an amendment to the Big West Force Majeure policy to clarify that a cancelled competition will be declared a “no contest” only in the event of a force majeure event that results in an entire team being unable to compete. The amendment goes on to specify that if all teams do not play the same number of conference contests, an adjusted win percentage will be used to seed the conference championship and determine the regular season champion(s). Any game not played for any reason other than a force majeure situation will result in a forfeit for the team that cancels.
    Budget Approval    
The Board approved the 2023-24 operating budget of The Big West. Through an innovative new approach, the 2023-24 budget will be fully funded by membership and all revenues generated by the conference, inclusive of such elements as NCAA distributions, broadcast and sponsorship revenues, will be distributed to member institutions at the end of each fiscal year.
In addition to the actions listed above, the Board also ratified several sport-specific bylaws that had been originally proposed by the coaches of those sports.
    About The Big West    
The Big West is an NCAA Division I member with 11 members unified in empowering every student-athlete in competition and in life and uniting its university communities through championship experiences. Formed in 1969, The Big West membership consists of Cal Poly, CSU Bakersfield, Cal State Fullerton, CSUN, Hawai‘i, Long Beach State, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara. The Big West is united in the pursuit of boundless opportunities, enduring integrity, bold activism, fearless innovation and the pacific spirit of freedom, exploration and progress.
With the addition of men's water polo in 2023-24, The Big West now sponsors 19 sports at the NCAA Division I level: baseball, softball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s volleyball, women’s beach volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s track and field and men's and women’s water polo. For more information, visit or follow The Big West on Twitter @BigWestSports.

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