May 21, 2024

WCC to add Grand Canyon, Seattle U to get to 13 teams in 2025-26, but after that it gets complicated

Conference realignment by no means actually stops, the most recent instance of that touchdown Friday. Grand Canyon and Seattle University are leaving the Western Athletic Conference and can be a part of the West Coast Conference on July 1, 2025, the WCC introduced.

It’s the second time in lower than 5 months that the WCC has introduced in a pair of colleges to its ranks. In December, Oregon State and Washington State were voted in for most sports for the 2024-25 and 2025-26 seasons. (But not soccer, which goes to be affiliated with the Mountain West the following two years.) 

It’s a coup for brand spanking new commissioner Stu Jackson, who took over operating the WCC somewhat greater than a 12 months in the past.

GCU and Seattle U coming aboard means the WCC might be an 11-school league subsequent season (with Oregon State and Wazzu) after which will enhance to 13 faculties (barring different motion) for 2025-26. That is anticipated to be the one 13-school season for the WCC, although. 

The two-year affiliation settlement with Oregon State and Washington State expires June 30, 2026. Oregon State and Washington State remaining as affiliate members in the WCC past 2026 is very unlikely, sources stated. The most possible finish recreation for the Beavers and Cougars is linking up with the Mountain West and/or reforming a brand new league below Pac-12 branding, sources instructed CBS Sports, due to the tens of tens of millions of {dollars} OSU and Wazzu gained amid the fallout of the Pac-12’s demise. (The present buyout for Mountain West applications is $37 million and the league’s media rights deal runs via June 30, 2026.)

Seattle U is a geographic match, in addition to being a non secular one; it is a Jesuit college, like many different WCC faculties. Grand Canyon, alternatively, was beforehand solely generally known as a for-profit establishment. The Christian-based establishment has promoted a change in its monetary standing to nonprofit standing in current years. The IRS, the State of Arizona and the NCAA all acknowledge that change, although the U.S. Department of Education nonetheless classifies GCU as a for-profit entity; an ongoing authorized matter has but to settle the dispute. Which was why WCC leaders waited and deliberated for years earlier than in the end voting to deliver GCU aboard. Grand Canyon’s transfer to the WCC had been in the works for a really very long time, but it wasn’t a streamlined course of.

Jackson labored diligently with some WCC presidents who have been beforehand on the fence or towards GCU approaching due to its for-profit mannequin (in addition to its stature in academia). The large promote was how a lot upside GCU’s basketball program offered in making the WCC a greater convention. The contingency, per a supply, was to deliver Seattle U in as a bundle deal. It’s additionally two teams being added for the anticipated lack of Oregon State and Washington State in 2026. 

“Presidents wanted to make sure they had two schools coming into the conference,” a supply instructed CBS Sports. “With everything going on in the television world, that as much as anything is a factor. Now we’re picking up one of the top markets, in Arizona, and picking up Seattle and the west side of Washington.”

The Antelopes have been a significant factor in males’s school basketball in current seasons, having made three of the previous 4 NCAA Tournaments below Bryce Drew. In March, Twelfth-seeded Grand Canyon upset its future convention brethren in an NCAA Tournament first spherical victory vs. Saint Mary’s. Drew is 94-32 in 4 seasons with this system.

The newest with Gonzaga

This latest blast of realignment comes amid lingering hypothesis over the viability of Gonzaga leaving the WCC for an even bigger convention. Most lately, the Bulldogs have been connected to potential Big 12 membership. Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark has been championing Gonzaga to join his league for nearly two years as a result of he believes school basketball as a property stays considerably undervalued. Regardless, there is no such thing as a momentum for Gonzaga to the Big 12 as issues at the moment stand, in accordance to sources. 

Talks about Gonzaga becoming a member of the Big 12 stalled in December, sources beforehand instructed CBS Sports, they usually haven’t gained traction since. Gonzaga not having soccer is the largest prohibitor to its candidacy, in addition to many Big 12 presidents and athletic administrators wanting to wait quite a lot of years to see how the new-look 16-school Big 12 settles in earlier than critically contemplating one other realignment transfer. 

To that level: At least week’s Big 12 conferences in Phoenix, Gonzaga was not on any of the agendas and didn’t come up in a number of conferences between athletic administrators and coaches, sources instructed CBS Sports. 

“This probably solidifies Gonzaga’s retention for now as much as anything because they’re going to end up getting at least two better games within the conference,” one supply stated re: Grand Canyon becoming a member of the WCC. 

Mark Few’s program stays among the many greatest in school basketball and is coming off a ninth straight Sweet 16 look amid its twenty fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament. It’s poised to be a top-15 staff heading subsequent season as effectively. Gonzaga continues to thrive due to its dominance over the WCC, whereas the WCC continues to be viable as a result of it has Gonzaga. 

As for the WAC and its losses of GCU and Seattle U, the league is as soon as extra in bother after briefly having fun with a fruitful spate of additives. The WAC was at 13 teams as lately because the 2022-23 season but is now solely assured of eight applications come July 1, 2025. Sam Houston and New Mexico State joined CUSA in 2023 (CUSA additionally introduced on Friday that Missouri State was becoming a member of in 2025). Two years in the past, Incarnate Word rapidly made its approach again to the Southland after initially planning to be a part of the WAC. UTRGV can be heading to the Southland. Lamar additionally returned to the Southland in 2022 after a winless season in the WAC in males’s basketball.

Led by Grand Canyon’s 30-5 document, the convention ranked 14th in males’s basketball at final season, ending eleventh the season earlier than that. It was the strongest two-year run in males’s basketball for the league in a decade. Grand Canyon’s dominant run each helped the WAC but additionally distanced itself from different leagues in males’s basketball. It was additionally working with extra assets than some other program.

Correction: An earlier model of this story unintentionally recognized UT Arlington as a substitute of UTRGV as a staff leaving the WAC for the Southland.