San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Pulled-apart Pac-12 leaves men’s soccer and women’s lacrosse programs hanging

Shifting sands of realignment puts the strain of potentially finding new conference homes for two programs on the docket for SDSU Athletics
Isabella Biunno
San Diego State forward Alexander Levengood (7) heads the ball against Cal State Bakersfield on Monday, Aug. 28 at the SDSU Sports Deck. Men’s soccer and women’s lacrosse are both impacted by the breakup of the Pac-12.

The shredding of an over a century-old sports conference has had a clear culprit: the pursuit of higher profits from football broadcasting rights contracts, distributed across the conference member institutions.

Lost among the chaos as the Pac-12 has been cleaved away by the Big Ten and Big 12, with the Atlantic Coast Conference having taken a final slice, is how it will impact each school’s other teams. Beyond that, affiliate programs are also likely looking for new homes.

Two such teams are right here on the Mesa, as the San Diego State men’s soccer team and women’s lacrosse team will compete in the Pac-12 this season. After that, who knows?

Both the Pac-12 men’s soccer and women’s lacrosse leagues will have six member schools this season, which is a critical number. NCAA bylaw states that a conference must have six active members and must have played the two previous seasons as a six-team conference to be eligible to have its champion automatically qualify for the NCAA tournament.

Washington and UCLA will be jumping to Big Ten men’s soccer next year, putting that Pac-12 AQ status in jeopardy. The same goes for women’s lacrosse: the University of California and Stanford (who are also in the men’s soccer conference) are off to the ACC while USC and Oregon head for the Big Ten.

For the men’s soccer program, which made the jump from the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) for the 2005 season, it means the end of an era competing in the “Conference of Champions.”

Following the summer shifts, it’s just Oregon State and the Aztecs left in Pac-12 men’s soccer. A two-team league is untenable, so where could they end up? There are three other West Coast leagues that could be potential landing spots for SDSU.

The Big West is home to UC San Diego and made up entirely of UC and CSU schools. The West Coast Conference is an all-private school conference and home to the University of San Diego. Finally, the Western Athletic Conference is home to fellow Mountain West schools Air Force, San José State and UNLV.

Realignment drama has been the farthest thing from the mind of men’s soccer head coach Ryan Hopkins.

“For our guys in our program right now, we’re just trying to focus on the here and the now and what we can control,” Hopkins said in a preseason interview. “All that stuff, men’s soccer on the totem pole of Pac-12 worries right now is probably pretty low.”

The May 31, 2022 announcement that the women’s lacrosse team was to join the Pac-12 as an affiliate member along with UC Davis was an exciting step up for the program. SDSU competed as an independent team for the past two seasons since leaving the MPSF, following the league’s decision to drop the sport after the 2021 season.

Unlike men’s soccer, there are currently no other options for lacrosse conferences on the West Coast for the Aztecs. Arizona State and Colorado will also be leaving the Pac-12, but the Big 12 conference they’re headed to doesn’t currently sponsor women’s lacrosse, leaving them with a similar question.

Whatever the future holds for men’s soccer and women’s lacrosse, John David Wicker, director of Intercollegiate Athletics, and SDSU Athletics will “continue to do our due diligence to identify the best opportunity and fit in the interest of both our university and our student-athletes,” according to a statement by Wicker made in June.

Shame that in the realignment race, that hasn’t seemed to be the case across the board.

About the Contributors
Eric Evelhoch
Eric Evelhoch, '23-24 Sports Editor
Eric Evelhoch (he/him/his) is a senior media studies major who was born outside of Detroit, Michigan, and lived in Ventura County, California, for a decade-plus. He is a returning college student and transfer from Santa Barbara City College, where he served as Sports Editor for The Channels. Evelhoch is also a Sports Director for KCR College Radio, where he restarted play-by-play coverage post-pandemic. Currently, he serves as the play-by-play broadcaster for the SDSU ACHA DI hockey team and has filled in on the call for Aztecs sports on the Mountain West Network. His prior freelance experience includes print, digital, online video and audio-only, and broadcast radio formats covering football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer and volleyball.
Isabella Biunno
Isabella Biunno, '24-25 Managing Editor, '23-24 Photo Editor
Isabella Biunno (she/her/hers) is a photographer for The Daily Aztec. She is originally from Las Vegas, Nevada where she was a part of yearbook and publications for nearly six years. She is a first-year Psychology major with an emphasis in neuroscience, and she plans to go to graduate school for Occupational Therapy. She loves photography, editing, and creating, and she can’t wait to continue shooting content for the DA. One thing she is passionate about outside of photojournalism is being involved in the disability/Autism community. She is a part of SDSU’s Adapted Athletics club, and she worked as an Instructor at a company back home called Inclusion Fusion where she was able to work with people with disabilities. Although her career-related passions fall in the healthcare field, she enjoys taking pictures and covering photo events just as much. She looks forward to expanding her experience as a photographer as well as capturing some astounding shots this year.