By Kevin Sweeney
Division 2 Cal Baptist is expected to move up to Division 1 and join the WAC, according to Mid-Major Madness. Earlier today, the WAC released that they would be making an announcement at 5:30 pm Mountain time, though they did not give any details about what would be being announced. Meanwhile, Cal Baptist is reportedly also expected to make some sort of announcement tonight.
This marks an incredibly fast rise to the Division 1 level for the Lancers, who only became full D2 members in 2013-14 as members of the Pac West Conference. However, they have been highly successful at the D2 level, having gone 78-18 from 2013-2016. The Lancers also have Division 1-level facilities, with the recently-built CBU Events Center seating over 5,000 for basketball.
The move would give the WAC 9 teams for basketball. It is unclear whether the conference will look to add another program or if one of its current programs will leave the league. Current members Chicago State and UMKC don’t fit in geographically with the rest of the conference, so they could be candidates to depart, though that is simply speculation on my part.
It’s not the first time that the WAC has taken in a Division 2 program. Grand Canyon, which followed a similar path to CBU, has enjoyed a great deal of success in its short time as a Division 1 program.
The timeframe of the move is currently unclear, but North Alabama recently announced its plans to move up to D1 athletics beginning in the Fall of 2018, so this move may follow a similar timetable. Once they move up, they will enter a 4 year transition period during which they will be ineligible for the NCAA Tournament.
Cal Baptist is coached by Rick Croy, formerly the lead assistant under Randy Bennett at St. Mary’s.
I’m sure much more information about this move will come in the coming hours.