Seattle U, Grand Canyon Accept Invites To West Coast Conference

Courtesy: WCC Sports

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – The West Coast Conference Presidents’ Council has approved the addition of Grand Canyon University and Seattle University as Conference members.

Grand Canyon and Seattle accepted offers from the WCC earlier today and will officially become the 10th and 11th full-time members of the Conference on July 1, 2025.

“We are thrilled to welcome two institutions of higher education that each will make significant contributions to the future of the West Coast Conference,” Gonzaga University President and Chair of the WCC Presidents’ Council Dr. Thayne McCulloh said. “While each university has a unique and distinctive character, both are deeply invested in the welfare of their students and surrounding communities, are making significant investments in their athletics programs and facilities, and will enhance the competitive profile of the West Coast Conference. I applaud the work of our Commissioner and the WCC Presidents’ Council for their efforts. Welcoming Grand Canyon University and Seattle University is truly a significant moment for the WCC.”

SwimSwam Note: The West Coast Conference does not sponsor men’s or women’s swimming and diving. GCU says that the process of “evaluating conference options for swimming and diving and track and field is well underway.” 

Grand Canyon and Seattle will compete in 14 of the WCC’s 16 sponsored sports beginning with the 2025-26 seasons. Both institutions sponsor men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball, softball, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s cross country and women’s cross country; while Grand Canyon will compete in the WCC in beach volleyball and Seattle will compete in the Conference in rowing.

“The WCC Presidents’ Council is deliberate in its effort to position the West Coast Conference as one of the premier NCAA Division I conferences in the nation, and the addition of Grand Canyon University and Seattle University bolsters the membership, enhances the profile of competitive excellence and expands the conference footprint into two major cities in the Western region,” WCC Commissioner Stu Jackson said. “The WCC has a storied history of competitive prowess on the national level, and the addition of Grand Canyon and Seattle will further enrich the Conference’s national visibility. We appreciate the opportunity to work with Grand Canyon University President Brian Mueller, Vice President of Athletics Jamie Boggs; and Seattle University President Eduardo Peñalver and Director of Athletics Shaney Fink as we stabilize and position the West Coast Conference for the future.”

The additions of Grand Canyon and Seattle expand the WCC to 11 full-time members, marking the greatest number of full-time member institutions in the 71-year history of the Conference. With Grand Canyon joining the WCC, the Conference footprint will expand to the state of Arizona for the first time in its history. The WCC footprint, which already includes the No. 2 (Los Angeles) and No. 10 (San Francisco Bay Area) media markets in the nation, will now also include the No. 11 and No. 13 media markets in Phoenix and Seattle, respectively.

First established in 1949, Grand Canyon University has grown exponentially within the Phoenix market and is a well-recognized institution on a national level. A member of the Western Athletic Conference the past 11 years, GCU has captured 66 conference championships and won the WAC Commissioner’s Cup each of the last five fully completed academic years. The men’s basketball program has earned an NCAA Tournament berth each of the last two years and finished the 2023-24 season with 30 wins and a top-50 NET ranking.

“We have been blessed in the past 16 years to become one of the fastest-growing institutions in the country with a true national footprint that is drawing students from all 50 states,” said GCU President Brian Mueller. “This is due to our high-quality academic programs and innovative delivery platforms. Athletically, our teams have also emerged, going from a Division II power to a championship caliber high mid-major program in Division I in a very short time.

“We are incredibly excited for this next opportunity to join the WCC, which is one of the nation’s premier athletic conferences as well as one of the premier basketball conferences in the country.”

Seattle was previously a member of the Conference under its former name, the West Coast Athletic Conference (WCAC) from 1971-80. Since its return to NCAA Division I in 2008, Seattle has earned 65 conference championships. The Redhawks have been a member of the Western Athletic Conference since 2012, where they most recently won titles in men’s soccer and women’s golf. The men’s soccer program was ranked No. 9 nationally during the 2023 season. Men’s basketball has achieved three consecutive 20-win seasons from 2022-24, including 23 wins and the College Basketball Invitational championship this past season.

“We are thrilled that Seattle University will be joining the West Coast Conference,” said SU President Eduardo M. Peñalver. “This is an exciting moment for our student athletes, alumni and university that places SU in excellent position for the future in the rapidly changing world of college sports. We are especially well-aligned with the WCC and its member schools from an academic, athletics and geographic standpoint.”

Oregon State and Washington State will join the WCC as affiliate members across 12 sports for two years, beginning with the 2024-25 academic year. Air Force, California Baptist and San Jose State compete as affiliate members in men’s water polo, while Creighton competes as an affiliate member in rowing.

The additions of GCU and Seattle, along with the affiliate membership of Oregon State, Washington State, Air Force, California Baptist, San Jose State and Creighton in select sports, gives the Conference 13 teams in men’s basketball, women’s basketball, women’s soccer, volleyball and women’s cross country; 12 teams in men’s golf; 11 teams in men’s soccer and women’s tennis; 10 teams in men’s tennis; nine teams in rowing and men’s cross country; and eight teams in beach volleyball, softball and women’s golf during the 2025-26 academic year.

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1 month ago

Go Redhawks!!!

O Thomas Johnson
1 month ago

Swimming wise half of this Conference competes in the Mountain Pacific Sport Federation, the other half competes in the Pacific Collegiate Swim Conference. Will GCU and Seattle compete in one of these two conferences, or is the WCC committed to add swimming and diving in the Conference

Bert Bergen
Reply to  O Thomas Johnson
1 month ago

No schools in this conference compete in the PCSC.

1 month ago

GCU is a for-profit institution. Last year it was fined $37.7M by the Department of Education for deceiving students about the cost of doctoral degrees. It was sued by the FTC for the same reason. Its participation in college athletics takes money from non-profit schools and puts it in the pockets of shareholders.

1 month ago

Hopefully the Fed Gov stops trying to shut GCU DOWN

1 month ago

Pretty big ramifications for swimming, as this likely means the end of the WAC, both as a full conference and as a conference championship meet. Going to be lots of teams/schools figuring out new homes/configurations for both men’s and women’s swimming. Hasn’t been a lot of positive news for college swimming west of the Rockies in recent years.

Steve Schaffer
Reply to  Coach
1 month ago

Actually, the Big West bringing back Men’s and Women’s swimming in 24-25 was really good news for the west.

Time will tell where the WAC swim programs will land, but there will be options for all of them. The MPSF is a likely landing spot,,but the WCC will have 5 women’s programs and 3 men’s programs in 2025, so perhaps the WCC could follow the Big West’s lead and sponsor swimming and diving with a few affiliates to round out the conference.