For the first time in 20 years, the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference has welcomed another university into its membership, Chapman University.
This is not Chapman’s first stint in the SCIAC, though; it were first associated with the conference as Chapman College beginning in 1950.
The Panthers only participated in baseball, basketball and tennis before the association ended in 1952.
“They only strengthen our conference,” athletic director Julie Kline said. “They are nationally recognized as a strong athletic program. And given there are a limited number of Division III schools west of the Rockies, the addition of Chapman only helps us with visibility, recognition and competitiveness.”
Chapman has been officially accepted into the SCIAC as of this year, the 2011-2012 academic year.
However it will not be able to compete in conference games, win a conference championship, or have any of their athletes selected for any conference awards until next year.
The other schools in the SCIAC could have agreed to make a longer grace period for Chapman to wait, though.
Their addition raised the number of teams in the SCIAC to nine.
The addition of the Panthers to the SCIAC adds another school into the mix when it comes to conference play and striving for a SCIAC championship.
But their addition does not impact the scheduling of many sports at La Verne.
During the 2010-2011 academic year, 10 out of the 18 sports teams at the University played against Chapman at least once.
The Leopards and Panthers were featured in 15 contests last year.
La Verne only prevailed in six of them, adding evidence that the Panthers can compete with the rest of the SCIAC.
Their popularity shows proof that they are a worthy opponent despite the fact that until this year they were not a member of any athletic conference.
Whether or not they will dominate in conference competition remains to be seen.
“I think they have the potential to and it will depend on the sport,” volleyball coach Jenna Panatier said.
“It just adds another competitive team that can beat anyone in the conference,” head football coach Chris Krich said.
The inclusion of Chapman arguably provides more than just an improvement in athletics.
The colleges and universities that make up the SCIAC will also be improved in regards to academics and the amount of applicants they evaluate each year.
The other SCIAC schools will attract the eyes of student-athlete prospects of Chapman purely because of their membership.
“I think it broadens the geography of the conference and it adds to diversity,” Kline said.
Chapman is located in the city of Orange.
Its location alone attracts a lot of interest due to its proximity to the beaches and the atmosphere of sunny Southern California.
The possibilities for those same applicants to apply to schools like La Verne, Redlands and Occidental is increased because they can still be by the beach and play at the same competitive level as Chapman.
“I think them being in the conference will help with recruiting,” Panatier said.
In regards to athletics, the most important addition that Chapman brings is the fact that it is a school that holds athletics as one of its top priorities.
In order to compete with such standards, the other SCIAC schools will have to raise their own.
If they do not, they risk losing student-athletes to the conference’s newest addition.
“I think they raised the quality of our league, it’s that simple,” women’s basketball coach Matt Rogers said.
“Hopefully it will raise the expectations of other schools in our league to improve the quality of the student-athlete experience,” he said.
Most of all, Chapman is a national contender in Division III athletics and its presence in the SCIAC will raise the quality of the conference overall.
With the added quality of Chapman it will make it that much more competitive to be a student-athlete in the SCIAC.
“You have to beat the best to be the best,” Rogers said.
Daniel Hargis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.