Commissioner's Corner offers a Happy Thanksgiving 2012 from the PacWest

Commissioner Bob Hogue NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. - As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we in the PacWest have so much to be thankful for. The PacWest has come a long way in the past few years, and as we look at where we stand in the fall of 2012, we are truly blessed at what we see.

This year, with 14 schools thanks to the addition of Azusa Pacific, Fresno Pacific, Holy Names and Point Loma, we became the largest NCAA Division II conference in the West Region. Our impact on the West was immediate.

In men’s soccer, for example, our teams had an especially strong showing in the non-conference season, and that helped propel two of our PacWest squads into the NCAA II West Regional in Notre Dame de Namur and conference champion Grand Canyon.

It marks the first time in the league’s recent history that two conference teams made it into the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament.  Once there, nationally-ranked GCU powered its way to the host spot of the Super Regional.

Meanwhile, in women’s soccer, California Baptist successfully defended its title and won a spirited race for the 2012 PacWest crown, with newcomers Azusa Pacific and Point Loma not far behind. BYU-Hawaii edged Grand Canyon to earn the automatic bid to the NCAA II Tournament.

In women’s volleyball, the PacWest again made history this fall when BYU-Hawaii and Grand Canyon were ranked 1-2 in the final West Region poll. The Seasiders, ranked in the AVCA Top 10 in the nation for most of the year, finished the conference season with a perfect 16-0 mark and were named the host and #1 seed of the upcoming NCAA II West Regional in Laie, Hawai‘i, Nov. 29-Dec. 1.

Grand Canyon, with a perfect non-conference mark, and a national Top 20 ranking, will be the second seed.  Fresno Pacific is not yet eligible for NCAA post-season play, but had a terrific impact in its first season in the PacWest, going 15-1, and finishing as the conference runner-up.

The PacWest held its largest ever men’s and women’s cross country championships this year in Kahuku, Hawai‘i, hosted by Hawai‘i Pacific University. Fourteen women’s teams and 13 men’s squads vied for the title on a warm, humid day along the beautiful northern tip of Oahu.

Jenny Bergren of Academy of Art University won the individual women’s title, while the Azusa Pacific women claimed the Cougars first ever conference team title.

Talal Khan of California Baptist won the men’s race and helped lead the Lancers to their second straight PacWest men’s crown. Later, Bergren and Dixie State’s Rachel Young earned All-American honors at the NCAA II Cross Country National Championships.

The PacWest made big noise in men’s basketball this week when the Chaminade Silverswords upset Division I power Texas in the Maui Invitational. The ‘Swords victory made national headlines on ESPN’s SportsCenter and across the nation. It was just one of several big wins by our PacWest men’s and women’s teams this month.

Other impressive Division II victories were turned in by defending PacWest Champion Dixie State, along with Dominican, Grand Canyon, Fresno Pacific, California Baptist, Azusa Pacific and Hawai‘i Hilo.

The Academy of Art women’s team is off to a great start, while defending champion Grand Canyon, along with California Baptist, Dixie State, Hawai‘i Pacific, Azusa Pacific, Point Loma, and others promise the run for the PacWest title will be extremely exciting this year.

Nine women’s teams and nine men’s teams will be eligible to compete for the 12 available spots in the inaugural PacWest Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament set for March 7-9 at Azusa Pacific University. Stay tuned to the PacWest website for details on how you can get your tickets.

Besides our outstanding teams, we need to be thankful for our efforts in the classroom, too. I was at Dominican University of California this past month to present the Penguins with their third straight PacWest Academic Achievement Award. During 2011-12, Dominican tied with Grand Canyon for the conference’s top student-athlete grade point average, and I will be at GCU to present the Antelopes with their Academic Achievement Award on December 5.

Also that night, I’ll be giving the Grand Canyon SAAC its second straight Make-A-Wish Award. The Antelopes outstanding efforts in fundraising made it second in the nation amongst NCAA Division II schools this past year. Thanks to a big goal set at our annual SAAC Retreat, our conference also finished in the top five in the nation.

At this year’s SAAC Retreat, our SAAC leaders established an even higher goal for 2012-13, so be sure to support your local school and their hard work for a very important cause.

In early December, I will be at Dixie State (Dec. 3) and Academy of Art (Dec. 8) to present the Red Storm and Urban Knight student-athletes with last year’s PacWest Community Engagement Award. We are so thankful for their great service to their local communities.

Earlier this year, I was at California Baptist University to honor the school for winning the 2011-12 Commissioner’s Cup. The Lancers made history by winning six conference titles in just their first year in the PacWest.

Thanks also to our hard-working conference office staff.  Assistant Commissioner Jane Teixeira has helped our member schools make great strides in the area of compliance, and Assistant Commissioner Tom Di Camillo showcases our teams and student-athletes every week with honors, press releases, and radio broadcasts.

Media Specialist Wayne Coito does a terrific job with our PacWest Magazine television show and with videos throughout the year on YouTube and our PacWest website.  Be sure to watch for our new conference website redesign soon. Our new, fresh look will be unveiled in December.

As your commissioner, I’m so proud of our great conference. The PacWest has every right to be very thankful this Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving from all us in the PacWest!

Commissioner Bob Hogue