Author: Riley Kimball
On July 1, Chapman University was officially accepted as the ninth and newest member of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) after SCIAC officials voted unanimously to add the Panthers to the conference. Previously unaffiliated with any athletic conference, the Panthers competed with various Division III schools but had no consistent schedule.
Their new standing in SCIAC will allow them to develop an official ranking and offers the other SCIAC teams a new opponent to deepen rivalries.
Occidental Athletic Director Jaime Hoffman explained the background of the decision to admit Chapman to the SCIAC, stressing the scrutiny that a school goes under in order to join an athletic conference.
“We, as a conference, take pride in being mindful of academic demands while providing a quality and competitive scholar-athlete experience,” Hoffman said.
The SCIAC committee considered everything from Chapman’s sports sponsorships to financial aid to athletic facilities, and they were able to make an informed decision accordingly.
Under the terms of their acceptance, Chapman’s athletic teams will be ineligible for championships for two to three years.
Additionally, the Panthers will be required to add a number of sports they currently do not offer. Women’s lacrosse and men’s swimming and diving currently exist as club sports at Chapman and will join men’s track and field and women’s golf as full Panther varsity teams by the 2015-2016 academic year.
The first new SCIAC entry in 20 years, Chapman has already started the fall season and has had a number of encounters with Occidental athletics.
Chapman has so far fared well in its competitions with Occidental. While Occidental volleyball beat Chapman, both women’s and men’s soccer fell to the Panthers. Nevertheless, women’s soccer coach Colm McFeely feels that Chapman’s contribution to SCIAC is positive.
“Last year we played them and beat them, and this year they beat us. The presidents and athletic representatives of SCIAC have given this thing a really solid look, so I don’t think we’ll have any problems with upsets in balance of competition,” McFeely said.
Many Occidental athletes are also excited about playing Chapman on a more frequent and official basis.
Women’s cross country captain Anna Dalton (senior) thinks that welcoming Chapman into the SCIAC will make for enhanced competition.
“We’ve been competing against Chapman in invites as long as I’ve been a runner here,” Dalton said. “So adding them to SCIAC competition won’t be such a big change but will add greater depth to the SCIAC field.”
Chapman will look to immediately contribute to the SCIAC and have success against key components, namely Occidental, who has rivaled Chapman in recent years. Tiger athletic teams will next face Chapman in women’s volleyball on Sept. 24 and men’s water polo on Sept. 25. All of Occidental’s athletic teams look forward to facing Chapman in the new context that will slate the Panthers as a true SCIAC opponent.
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