Seatttle University's proposed move back to Division One was met with a blow this week when the WCC announced that the conference had no plans to expand now, or in the near future. The WCC is made up of mostly Jesuit schools on the West Coast. Denver, and Seattle U were both candidates to move into the conference expanding it to ten teams.
The catalyst for the decision was Gonzaga University who does not want any additional WCC games added to it's schedule. Gonzaga also doesn't want to give up it's presence in Seattle for recruiting, scheduling non conference game's, and pre season tournaments. Adding Seattle U. to the conference would complicate matters for Gonzaga on all fronts. Gonzaga is currently the tail that wags the dog in the WCC. The Zag's have grown into a national power who play the majority of their games on ESPN. Two more conference games means two less marquee opponents for the Zag's to play on ESPN.
Seattle U. hasn't given up it's quest for Division One, but now it's options are much more limited.
Option #1 would be too play an independent schedule which is tough since there are only around ten independent teams left in the country. Five of those teams however are in the Western United States....North Dakota St, South Dakota State, UC Davis, Utah Valley St, and Texas-Pan American.
Option #2 would be too try to get into the West's other basketball only conference, the Big West which is made up of entirely of California school's who probably have little interest in playing in Seattle.
Option #3 would be playing in the Sun Belt as a basketball only member. The Sun Belt has an open door policy concerning membership, but the closest opponents would be in West Texas, and Colorado, with the majority East of the Mississippi.
Option #4 would be applying for membership in the Big Sky as a basketball only member. Gonzaga once had such a relationship with the Big Sky before joining the WCC. The Big Sky currently has nine members, and is in an expansion mode, but they historically prefer schools that also play football.
With rejoining the WCC not a current option, the broader question of SU's athletic conference alignment remains. In May, Seattle University's Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet to discuss the task force findings and will be using that opportunity to discuss the role of athletics in contributing to the educational experience and the quality of student life at Seattle University.