Cal Lutheran Studies Move to Division III

Times Staff Writer

Cal Lutheran University, which carries dual membership in NCAA Division II and the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics, is exploring a move to NCAA Division III status in all sports.

The action, recommended by the university’s athletic policy committee and approved unanimously by the faculty, entails pursuing membership in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which includes Occidental, Pomona-Pitzer, Redlands, Whittier, Claremont, La Verne and Caltech.

Cal Lutheran is currently a member of the Western Football Conference in Division II and the Golden State Athletic Conference in the NAIA.


“The main consideration is bringing all sports under one conference umbrella,” said Jerry H. Miller, president of Cal Lutheran. “The SCIAC is a conference that holds all sports in balance and those schools are a good fit with our size and academic philosophy.”

Division III is the NCAA’s largest division in terms of membership with 319 schools. Division III rules prohibit the awarding of athletic scholarships.

The athletic policy committee recommended examining the feasibility of moving to Division III after concluding a study that began in the fall.

“Keeping up with rule compliance and eligibility in such multiple membership is a nightmare,” committee chairman Monte Luker said in the two-page recommendation that was voted upon by the faculty April 11. “Regarding football, and to a lesser extent men’s basketball, very large amounts of financial aid are being invested in a small number of men, to the extent that the university is unable to continue to bear this financial burden.”

Miller said the matter is in its “first stage of exploration,” and will go before the university’s Board of Regents today.

Two forums have been held to involve students in the decision process, said Miller, who added that a decision will not be made until late fall.

“If we make a change to Division III and the SCIAC it would be a change occurring over the next three years and not be finalized until 1990 or ’91,” Miller said.

Bob Shoup, the football coach at Cal Lutheran for 26 years, said he supports “the concept of evaluating where we belong and the athletic fit of our programs.” But he believes the process has been one-sided and unnecessarily rushed.

“I think that reaching a decision by the fall would be too soon,” Shoup said. “We’re in final exams and there is no way students can serve on committees until next September. Over the summer is a very poor time to explore issues. People are on vacation and students are not on campus.”

Cal Lutheran moved its football program from the NAIA to Division II status in 1985 and is 2-17 in three years of conference play. Despite the lack of success, Miller said the university has no complaints with the WFC.

However, several WFC members are attempting to upgrade all sports except football to Division I. The time is right, Miller said, for Cal Lutheran to explore a move of its own--even if it is in the other direction.

“It’s a different ballgame now than it was five years ago,” Miller said.