American Football Database
Big West Conference
DivisionDivision I non-football
Sports fielded16 (men's: 7; women's: 9)
RegionWest Coast
Former namesPacific Coast Athletic Association
HeadquartersIrvine, California
CommissionerDennis Farrell (since 1992)

The Big West Conference (BWC) is an NCAA-affiliated Division I mid-major college athletic conference. When the conference began in 1969, its name was the Pacific Coast Athletic Association (PCAA). After nineteen years, in 1988, its name was changed to the Big West Conference.[1] The conference stopped sponsoring college football after the 2000 season.


Creation of the Pacific Coast Athletic Association

The Big West Conference was formed on July 1, 1969, as the Pacific Coast Athletic Association. The charter all-sports members of the PCAA were Cal State Los Angeles, Fresno State, Long Beach State, San Diego State, San Jose State, and UC Santa Barbara. The University of the Pacific joined only for football, becoming an all-sports member two years later.[2]

Four of these charter members (Cal State Los Angeles, Fresno State, Long Beach State, and San Diego State) had previously been members of the nation's premier Division II conference, the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA). After capturing multiple national championships, the members sought a higher level of play, which could be found within the university ranks. Charter football member Pacific and charter all-sports members San Jose State and UC Santa Barbara had also been CCAA members in the past, but had moved to the West Coast Athletic Conference (now West Coast Conference) before joining the PCAA.

The seven schools formally met in May 1969 and finalized the creation of the PCAA less than two months later.


Since its inception as the Pacific Coast Athletic Association, the conference has seen many changes throughout the years. Utah State was the first institution outside of California to join the conference in 1978. This opened the floodgates for many other schools to affiliate with the PCAA; notable schools include UNLV, Nevada, Louisiana Tech, and Boise State, among others.

Big West Conference Sports
  • Baseball - men's
  • Basketball - men's and women's
  • Cross Country - men's and women's
  • Golf - men's and women's
  • Soccer - men's and women's
  • Softball - women's
  • Tennis - men's and women's
  • Track & Field - men's and women's
  • Volleyball - women's
  • Water Polo - women's

In 1983, the PCAA became the first western conference to introduce women's athletic programs, giving the opportunity for all its members to have their women student-athletes compete at the same level as their male counterparts. This proved vital for Hawaiʻi as their only participation in the conference was for their women's sports.

However, turnover of universities started to take its toll. Many left to join conferences that were perceived as more well-known, such as the Western Athletic Conference or the Mountain West Conference, while others did not see the benefit of travel since historically many of the teams have been California-based. From the departures of Idaho and Utah State in 2005 until the arrival of Hawaiʻi in 2012, all members were based in California, reducing both the cost and travel time between the universities. When Hawaiʻi joined, it agreed to help defray a portion of travel costs to that state for the league's California members. Between full and associate members, there have been no fewer than 25 members in the conference's history, while only three of the original seven charter members remain (Long Beach State, Pacific, and UC Santa Barbara; in 2013, Pacific will leave).

The change to the Big West

To mark its 20th year as an athletic conference, in 1988 the Pacific Coast Athletic Association decided to change its name to the Big West Conference. The move signaled the changing landscape within the conference. With such schools as Utah State, UNLV, Nevada, New Mexico State, and Hawaii now in the fold, the name change was more representative of the population. In addition, the conference had signed a contract with ESPN to have its men's basketball games telecast as the third game of a triple header known as "Big Monday" - the other conferences being featured were the Big East and the Big 12 so the name Big West fit the "big" theme. Despite the eventual departure of all non-California based teams, the widely-known "Big West Conference" name has remained constant.


Current members

Institution Nickname Location Founded Joined Type Enrollment NCAA Team
California Polytechnic State University
(Cal Poly San Luis Obispo)
Mustangs San Luis Obispo, California 1901 1996 Public (California State University system) 19,777 0
California State University, Fullerton
(Cal State Fullerton)
Titans Fullerton, California 1957 1974 Public (California State University system) 36,996 14
California State University, Northridge
(Cal State Northridge)
Matadors Northridge, California 1958 2001 Public (California State University system) 36,207 0
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Rainbow Warriors
Rainbow Wahine
Honolulu, Hawaii 1907 2012 Public (University of Hawaiʻi system) 20,435 3
California State University, Long Beach
(Long Beach State)
49ers Long Beach, California 1949 1969 Public (California State University system) 37,890 4
University of the Pacific Tigers Stockton, California 1851 1969,
Private 3,740 2
University of California, Davis
(UC Davis)
Aggies Davis, California 1908 2007 Public (University of California system) 31,426 1
University of California, Irvine
(UC Irvine)
Anteaters Irvine, California 1965 1977 Public (University of California system) 27,631 3
University of California, Riverside
(UC Riverside)
Highlanders Riverside, California 1954 2001 Public (University of California system) 20,746 0
University of California, Santa Barbara
(UC Santa Barbara)
Gauchos Santa Barbara, California 1905 1969,
Public (University of California system) 20,559 2
  • All but one of the current full members are public institutions, with all but one located in California. Pacific has announced its intention to rejoin the West Coast Conference in 2013.

Affiliate members

Institution Nickname Location Founded Joined Affiliation Enrollment NCAA Team
Primary Conference Big West
California State University, Sacramento
(Sacramento State)
Hornets Sacramento, California 1947 2012 Public (California State University system) 24,388 0 Big Sky Men's soccer
San Diego State University Aztecs San Diego, California 1897 2012 Public (California State University system) 33,790 0 Mountain West Women's water polo

Former members

Many of the former members of the Big West are now members of either the Western Athletic Conference or the Mountain West Conference. Of the nine schools that were in the WAC before the 2010–12 conference realignment, only Hawaii has not spent some time in the Big West as a football participant – it was a Big West member only in women's sports. Of all the former members, Cal State Los Angeles is the only team that reverted to Division II level.

School names and nicknames reflect those used by the institutions when they were Big West members. One school has changed its name (Southwestern Louisiana, now Louisiana–Lafayette) and one its nickname (Arkansas State, from Indians to Red Wolves).

Institution Nickname Location Membership Type Joined Left Current Conference
Arkansas State University[5] Indians Jonesboro, Arkansas Football only 1993,
Sun Belt
Boise State University Broncos Boise, Idaho Full member 1996 2001 Mountain West
California State University, Fresno Bulldogs Fresno, California Full member 1969 1992 Mountain West
California State University, Los Angeles Golden Eagles Los Angeles, California Full member 1969 1974 CCAA
University of Idaho Vandals Moscow, Idaho Full member 1996 2005 WAC*
Louisiana Tech University Bulldogs Ruston, Louisiana Football only 1993 1996 WAC*
University of Nevada, Las Vegas Rebels Las Vegas, Nevada Full member 1982 1996 Mountain West
University of Nevada, Reno Wolf Pack Reno, Nevada Full member 1992 2000 Mountain West
New Mexico State University Aggies Las Cruces, New Mexico Full member 1983 2000 WAC
University of North Texas Mean Green Denton, Texas Full member 1996 2000 Sun Belt*
Northern Illinois University Huskies DeKalb, Illinois Football only 1993 1996 MAC
San Diego State University Aztecs San Diego, California Full member 1969 1978 Mountain West
San Jose State University Spartans San Jose, California Full member 1969 1996 WAC*
University of Southwestern Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Lafayette, Louisiana Football only 1993 1996 Sun Belt
Utah State University Aggies Logan, Utah Full member 1978 2005 WAC*
  • Asterisk (*) indicates school has announced intention to change conferences in the near future. All schools so indicated will move in 2013 except for Idaho, which will move in 2014.

Membership timeline

California State University, SacramentoUniversity of California, DavisUniversity of California, RiversideCalifornia State University, NorthridgeCalifornia Polytechnic State UniversityBig Sky ConferenceWestern Athletic ConferenceUniversity of IdahoMountain West ConferenceWestern Athletic ConferenceBoise State UniversityConference USASun Belt ConferenceUniversity of North TexasSun Belt ConferenceSun Belt ConferenceArkansas State UniversitySun Belt ConferenceUniversity of Louisiana at LafayetteMid-American ConferenceNorthern Illinois UniversityConference USAWestern Athletic ConferenceSun Belt ConferenceLouisiana Tech UniversityMountain West ConferenceWestern Athletic ConferenceUniversity of Nevada, RenoWestern Athletic ConferenceUniversity of Hawaiʻi at MānoaWestern Athletic ConferenceSun Belt ConferenceNew Mexico State UniversityMountain West ConferenceWestern Athletic ConferenceUniversity of Nevada, Las VegasMountain West ConferenceWestern Athletic ConferenceUtah State UniversityUniversity of California, IrvineCalifornia State University, FullertonCalifornia State University, Long BeachUniversity of California, Santa BarbaraWest Coast ConferenceUniversity of the Pacific (United States)Mountain West ConferenceWestern Athletic ConferenceSan Jose State UniversityMountain West ConferenceWestern Athletic ConferenceCalifornia State University, FresnoMountain West ConferenceWestern Athletic ConferenceSan Diego State UniversityCalifornia Collegiate Athletic AssociationCalifornia State University, Los Angeles

Full members Full members (non-football) Assoc. members (football only) Assoc. member (list sports) Other Conference Other Conference


Locations of Big West Conference full member institutions for the 2012-13 academic year.


  • UC Santa Barbara was an independent from 1974–1976.


The Big West sponsors chmpionship competition in seven men's and nine women's NCAA sanctioned sports:[6]

Teams in Big West Conference competition
Sport Men's Women's
Cross Country
Track and Field (Outdoor)
Water polo

The Big West is strong in several sports. Baseball and Women's Volleyball have been the strongest because of the number of championships won. Cal State Fullerton has won 4 College World Series in 1979, 1984, 1995, and 2004. Long Beach State has won 5 Women's Volleyball championships in 1972, 1973, 1989, 1993, 1998, the last three being NCAA sanctioned titles. In 1998 Misty May-Treanor led the 49ers to a 36-0 record on route to the program's most recent title. Pacific won back to back Women's Volleyball titles in 1985 and 1986.

When UNLV won the school's lone Division I Basketball Championship in 1990, by beating Duke University by a record setting margin of 30 points in the 103-73 victory, they were a member of the Big West Conference.

The current members of the Big West have won a total of nine NCAA national championships including UC Santa Barbara’s most recent Men’s Soccer Championship in 2006.



Men's Basketball

The most recent winner of the Big West Conference Tournament is Long Beach State (2012), who won the tournament as the number 1 seed. .[7]

Women's Basketball


An asterisk denotes the participant in the bowls that invited the Big West champion:
Pasadena (1969–70), California (1981–91), Las Vegas (1992–96), and Humanitarian (1997–2000)[8]

Football Champions
Year University
1969 San Diego State*
1970 Long Beach State* & San Diego State
1971 Long Beach State
1972 San Diego State
1973 San Diego State
1974 San Diego State
1975 San Jose State
1976 San Jose State
1977 Fresno State
1978 San Jose State and Utah State
1979 Utah State
1980 Long Beach State
1981 San Jose State*
1982 Fresno State*
1983 Cal State Fullerton*
1984 Cal State Fullerton (UNLV* forfeited)
1985 Fresno State*
1986 San Jose State*
1987 San Jose State*
1988 Fresno State*
1989 Fresno State*
1990 San Jose State*
1991 Fresno State* & San Jose State
1992 Nevada*
1993 Utah State* & Southwestern La.
1994 UNLV*, Southwestern La., & Nevada
1995 Nevada*
1996 Nevada* & Utah State
1997 Utah State* & Nevada
1998 Idaho*
1999 Boise State*
2000 Boise State*

The Big West Conference discontinued football following the 2000 season.[9]


School Basketball Arena Capacity Baseball Stadium Capacity Soccer Stadium Capacity
Cal Poly Mott Gym 3,032 Robin Baggett Stadium 1,734 Alex G. Spanos Stadium 11,075
Cal State Fullerton Titan Gym 4,000 Goodwin Field 3,500 Titan Stadium 10,000
Cal State Northridge Matadome 1,600 Matador Field 1,000 Matador Soccer Field' 1,550
Hawaiʻi Stan Sheriff Center 10,300 Les Murakami Stadium 4,312 Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium 4,500
Long Beach State Walter Pyramid 5,000[10] Blair Field 3,238 George Allen Field 1,000
Pacific Alex G. Spanos Center 6,150 Klein Family Field 2,500 Knoles Field ???
Sacramento State Men's Soccer Member Only Hornet Field 1,500
UC Davis The Pavilion 7,600 Dobbins Baseball Complex 3,500 Aggie Field 1,000
UC Irvine Bren Events Center 4,984 Cicerone Field 2,900 Anteater Stadium 2,500
UC Riverside UC Riverside Student Recreation Center 3,168 Riverside Sports Complex 2,500 UCR Soccer Stadium 1,156
UC Santa Barbara UCSB Events Center (the Thunderdome) 5,600 Caesar Uyesaka Stadium 1,000 Harder Stadium 17,000


  2. Dhillon, Jagdip (March 29, 2012). "Tigers back 'home'". The Record (Stockton, California). Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  3. Although Pacific was a charter member of the conference in the 1969-70 season, it initially joined only for football. It moved its other sports into the PCAA in the 1971-72 season.
  4. UC Santa Barbara joined the conference when it was founded in 1969, left to become an independent after the 1973–74 season, then rejoined in the 1976-77 season.
  5. Arkansas State joined the conference for football in 1993, left to become an independent after the 1995–1996 season, then rejoined in 1999, only to leave again after the 2000–2001 season.
  10. "The Mike and Arlene Walter Pyramid". California State University, Long Beach. Retrieved February 12, 2012.

External links