The University of California San Diego will complete its expected jump to the Division I level and will join the Big West Conference in 2020.
The school announced the move today, though the jump to Division I has been widely expected after the student body voted in the spring of 2016 to more than double its student fees to help fund the move.
The transition period between Divisions II and I will start in the fall of 2020, with UCSD ineligible for conference or NCAA titles at the Division I level for four years. That mean’s the fall of 2024 will be the school’s first season competing as full Division I members.
It’s hard to say what impact the Big West inclusion will have on the swimming landscape. The Big West hasn’t included swimming & diving as a conference sport since 2010, but during that year, all of its remaining members with swimming programs jumped into the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF). That could be a natural landing spot for UC San Diego, currently featuring just 7 women’s teams and 5 men’s teams.
It seems unlikely the Big West would look at bringing swimming & diving back at the conference level with only a handful of member schools still supporting swimming & diving. San Diego is currently in the Pacific Collegiate Swim Conference for swimming & diving, though the school was a member of the Division II CCCA for most of its sports.
A couple sports will be joining the Big West early. Men’s volleyball was already set to be an associate member of the conference’s inaugural season this spring, and women’s water polo will join the Big West in 2019-2020.