CSUB

Tuesday, Sep 20 2011 07:01 PM

CSUB finding opportunities in affiliate membership

By JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer jevans@bakersfield.com

It was just about a year ago CSU Bakersfield President Horace Mitchell vowed that the Roadrunners would find a conference home by the end of the 2010-11 academic year.

That never happened. The closest CSUB came was in June when the Roadrunners applied for all-sports membership in the Western Athletic Conference, although in hindsight it is obvious CSUB was never seriously in the running for such a spot.

Sub-par athletic facilities that didn't meet WAC standards and sub-par on-the-field performances by numerous programs were cited by WAC Commissioner Karl Benson as the reasons that league rejected CSUB.

Being in one conference for all sports is years away, so CSUB is doing the next-best thing: Finding conference homes for individual sports rather than the program as a whole.

It's called "affiliate membership," and on Monday CSUB joined the WAC as an affiliate member in baseball, effective in 2013.

"For some time now we have been looking for the right conference affiliation for our athletic program," Mitchell said Monday. "We changed our strategy just a little bit."

Also on Monday, CSUB announced that men's and women's outdoor track and women's tennis are affiliate members of the Great West Conference, effective this spring.

That means 10 of CSUB's 19 sports are affiliate conference members, spread among six different conferences. The other nine sports remain Division I independents.

Wrestling is in the Pac-12, men's soccer and men's and women's swimming are in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, softball is in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference and women's water polo is in the Western Water Polo Association.

CSUB's nine independent sports are men's and women's basketball, volleyball, women's soccer, indoor track for men and women, men's and women's golf and women's cross country.

Athletic Director Jeff Konya said women's soccer is the next CSUB sport he hopes will receive an affiliate membership offer.

"We are under a new regime in NCAA Division I and so there's going to be some (opportunities) down the line where some of our teams can attract conferences in this manner," Konya said.

Women's soccer "is playing much better than we have in past years," Konya said. "You may not be seeing it in terms of wins and losses, but we've been competitive with Big 12 and WCC (West Coast Conference) teams that are strong in soccer. Hopefully we can parlay that into some more interest and hopefully ... attract a conference."

It's not going to happen for either basketball team.

"I don't know how many conferences would even allow you to have affiliate memberships, just because of the rules and how the distribution of NCAA money goes," Konya said.

Konya noted that affiliate memberships do provide flexibility for the time when a full conference membership is offered to the entire CSUB program.

"If there's a conference that comes on line that wants us as a full-fledged member, the contracts as an affiliate are not as substantial as if we were in a conference and were going to another conference," he said.

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