UC Davis Decides to Move Up to Division I, Join the Big West

UC Davis, long a power in NCAA Division II, is moving its athletic program to Division I and has accepted an invitation to join the Big West Conference.

Davis will begin four years of provisional Division I status next school year. Its programs will begin playing a Big West schedule in fall 2004.

“This step is necessary to preserve and improve the program we have,” Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef said at a news conference.

Davis has been one of the top Division II programs in the nation.


But university officials have explored moving to Division I for several years, believing Davis has outgrown Division II.

With Utah State leaving the Big West in two years and Idaho expected to follow suit, the conference has looked to add another California school.

“Our formula for academic and athletic success at UC Davis can work within the Big West Conference and Division I athletics,” Athletic Director Greg Warzecka said.

Davis will continue to compete as a Division I-AA independent in football, a sport the Big West does not sponsor.


-- Eric Stephens