The majority of Cal Lutheran head coaches oppose a proposal to become a member of NCAA Division III in all sports despite support for the move from the university’s faculty and administrators.
Several coaches interviewed say they are fearful of losing athletic scholarships, which are prohibited by NCAA Division III rules. They also oppose abandoning the Golden State Athletic Conference in the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics District 3, which Cal Lutheran joined in 1986. The school, an NAIA independent until joining the GSAC, would move to the Division III Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
At the NAIA level, which is composed of small, predominantly private colleges, athletic aide is allowed, as it is at the NCAA’s highest competitive level, Division I, and, to a lesser extent, in Division II.
A move to the SCIAC would put all Cal Lutheran teams in the same conference for the first time. Cal Lutheran is currently a member of the Division II Western Football Conference and belongs to the GSAC in the NAIA District 3 in other sports.
Larry Lopez, the CLU men’s basketball coach, said he likes the level of competition in the NAIA and that changing conferences would hurt his team.
“Without scholarships, we would lose players the caliber of Steve deLaveaga and Mike Demeter,” said Lopez, refering to the team’s top players. “It took three years to get where we are. If we move to Division III, there will be no scholarships and that will hurt us.”
The Cal Lutheran Board of Regents, which meets Friday and Saturday, must ratify the move. The university’s faculty voted, 52 to 11, last week to approve the proposal.
In addition, presidents from the SCIAC schools voted Wednesday to accept Cal Lutheran into its ranks. The SCIAC Faculty Athletic Committee, composed of faculty members and athletic directors from the conference schools, already has voted to admit Cal Lutheran.
Despite such support for the move, Bob Shoup, CLU’s football coach, is one of the staunchest opponents against changing conferences.
“The biggest fear the coaches have is the next four years,” Shoup said. “The transition phase is an unknown. Nobody in the administration at Cal Lutheran has given us a plan of how we are going to go from here to there.”
If the move is approved, it probably would be taken in increments. Non-revenue-producing sports could be moved as early as 1990. Revenue-producing sports--basketball and football--might take as many as 3 years to make the change, according to Robert Doering, Cal Lutheran’s athletic director.
The transition phase for the football and basketball teams would be longer because athletic scholarships are more crucial to the success of those teams.
Don Green, coach of CLU’s men’s track and cross-country teams, and his son and assistant coach, Doni, favor the move.
“It’s a miserable situation, as far as the athletes’ eligibility, to be involved in two national bodies--the NCAA and the NAIA,” Green said.
However, Carla DuPuis, CLU’s first-year volleyball coach, shares the majority view among coaches that a move to Division III would downgrade the athletic program.
“We are developing strong programs at Cal Lutheran where we are now,” DuPuis said. “I think that losing scholarship funds would hurt us greatly.”
Rich Hill, CLU’s baseball coach, said he does not believe that the move would hurt his baseball team, but he opposes the loss of athletic scholarships.
“We all stand pretty much unified in opposing the move,” Hill said. “I oppose it from a principle standpoint. I am not in favor of any move where there are no scholarships.
“There are still a lot of questions about how scholarship athletes will be affected by the move. I also feel that the quality of athlete that Cal Lutheran could attract would go down with no scholarships to offer.”