UCSB thrilled with addition of Boise State to Big West

The Big West Conference members have voted to invite Boise State into the league for all of its non-football sports for the 2013-14 season, it was announced Friday.

“On behalf of the campus, I couldn’t be more excited about this news and the effect it could have nationally,” said UCSB Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Mark Massari. “Moving our basketball tournament to Honda Center two years ago was the start of us elevating our image and that continues with the addition of three former Big West members: Hawaii, San Diego State and now Boise State. We embrace the new competition. Our history has shown that the Gauchos have been at their best when the conference is at its best.”

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Big West basketball was at its peak. UNLV established itself as one of the top programs in the nation, culminating in a national championship in 1990, and several other programs, including UCSB, lifted their levels. The Gauchos, in fact, advanced to two NCAA Tournaments as an at-large selection, and three other National Invitation Tournaments during that period.

The addition of the Broncos’ program is the fourth key development as the Big West continues to raise its national profile. Previously, the conference presidents and executive committee voted to add the University of Hawaii in 2012-13 and San Diego State in 2013-14. Also, since 2011 the league’s showcase event, the Big West Basketball Tournament, has been held at Honda Center in Anaheim. In fact, in 2012, the championship game between UCSB and Long Beach State drew a record crowd of 7,564 through the gates.

Because of Boise State’s football relationship with the Big East, that conference and the Big West are expected to have a men’s basketball scheduling alliance and are also exploring other opportunities and agreements.

“We added two great things to the conference today,” said Gaucho men’s basketball coach Bob Williams. “We’ve extended our footprint to the great Northwest with the addition of Boise State’s national brand, and we’ve developed a scheduling partnership with the Big East. This is a banner day for the Big West Conference.”

UCSB head women’s basketball coach Carlene Mitchell shared Williams’ excitement.

“The addition of Boise State and the potential for future scheduling opportunities with the Big East are both great things for the Big West Conference,” Mitchell said. “The future looks very bright and I am very excited about the opportunity to be a part of it.”

Boise State competes in 17 sports overall, 10 women’s and seven men’s. The Broncos participate in five Big West men’s sports (basketball, tennis, track & field, cross country and golf) and eight of the league’s women’s sports (basketball, volleyball, softball, soccer, tennis, track & field, cross country and golf). In addition, they have women’s swimming & diving and would lift the conference’s competing institutions in that sport back to six. Currently, the UCSB men’s swimming & diving program competes in the Pac 12 Conference.

For the Broncos, 2013 will actually mark a return to the conference they called home from 1996-2001. During its time in the Big West, Boise State won league crowns in men’s tennis, women’s tennis, men’s cross country and women’s cross country. They also won one men’s basketball eastern division championship and one women’s eastern division title.