Cal Lutheran Board of Regents Approves Move to SCIAC

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Ending months of speculation, the Cal Lutheran Board of Regents gave a clear mandate Saturday for the university to become a member of NCAA Division III in all sports.

The board deliberated just 30 minutes before approving, 31 to 8 with 1 abstention, a faculty recommendation that the school join the Division III Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

The proposal was approved despite board member Brian McConnell’s motion to postpone the vote until the regents’ next meeting Jan. 13-14.


McConnell said that the board’s vote was precipitous and should have been tabled until after the NCAA Convention on Jan. 8-12. A proposal to create Division I-AAA will be considered at the convention. If approved, the change would alter the makeup of Division II, perhaps making it more attractive for Cal Lutheran to remain in the Western Football Conference.

“I don’t think it was an intelligent vote,” McConnell said. “I don’t feel enough information has come in yet, and we have not had enough chance to digest it all to consider a move that has quite a bit of impact on this school.”

Jerry Miller, Cal Lutheran’s president, rejected the contention that the vote should have been postponed until after the NCAA Convention.

“We have seen no indication by any university in the WFC of any interest in going to the Division I third level,” said Miller, who is also president of the WFC.

Jack Wise, president of the board, said that the regents had ample opportunity to consider Cal Lutheran’s move to the SCIAC before voting.

“The board felt as if there had been adequate discussion of all the issues,” Wise said. “It would not have been appropriate to wait in order to see what the NCAA may or may not do.”

The move to the SCIAC puts all Cal Lutheran teams in the same conference for the first time. Cal Lutheran joined the Golden State Athletic Conference of the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics District 3 as a charter member in 1986. CLU competes in the conference in all sports other than football.

However, in a Sept. 7 meeting the GSAC voted to terminate membership of any school that joins another conference. The GSAC Executive Committee will vote Friday on what action to take against Cal Lutheran.

Miller expressed optimism that the GSAC might reconsider its position when it meets Friday.

“I think the GSAC needs to look at its constitution on that matter,” Miller said.

Robert Doering, Cal Lutheran’s athletic director, said that the university will play out its schedule this season as an independent if the GSAC terminates its membership. Cal Lutheran still would be eligible for the District 3 playoffs, he said.

McConnell, a board member for 9 years, also voiced concern over Cal Lutheran leaving the GSAC, which is composed of small, predominantly private colleges and universities with strong church affiliations.

“Being a Christian-oriented school, we shouldn’t align ourselves with a secular group,” McConnell said.

Marvin James, vice chairman of the board, denied that moving to the SCIAC, which prohibits athletic scholarships in accordance with Division III rules, would hurt Cal Lutheran’s recruiting efforts.

“It might be affected somewhat, but I still think we will put a competitive athletic program on the field,” James said.

The majority of Cal Lutheran coaches opposed the university becoming a member of the SCIAC because it meant tighter recruiting rules and a loss of athletic scholarships. Under Division III rules, a coach’s off-campus recruiting is limited and no coach is allowed to work in a school’s admissions office.

Currently, softball coach Wendy Olson, baseball coach Rich Hill and assistant football coach Ernie Sandlin work in Cal Lutheran’s admissions office.

Hill said Miller told him that the 3 coaches working in the admissions office would not have to leave until the transition phase is completed.

“If that is not the case, then I would hope the university would find another position for me other than in admissions,” Hill said.

CLU football Coach Bob Shoup, a staunch opponent of the move, was disappointed with the board’s decision.

“I feel disappointed for past, present and future football players at Cal Lutheran,” Shoup said. “Unfortunately, I feel like prejudice triumphed over understanding, and I think the true information never got to the right people.”

Miller said that he expects the move to the SCIAC to 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.

The transition phase for the football and basketball teams would be longer because those teams are more dependent on athletic scholarships than other sports.

Cal Lutheran loses to Southern Utah State. See story, Page 25.