SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Sacramento State women's rowing program will join Conference USA beginning in the fall of 2013, it was announced today by the league's board of directors.
The Hornet rowing team, which has never been part of an NCAA-recognized conference since gaining intercollegiate status in 1995, will now have a shot at Conference USA's automatic qualifier into the NCAA Championship. The Conference USA championship is awarded to the team that generates the most points based on results in the varsity eight, second varsity eight and varsity four competitions at season-ending conference regatta.
Sacramento State rowing has been a member of the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association (WIRA) since 1995, and the WIRA Championship has doubled as the program's conference championship event. However, WIRA is not recognized by the NCAA as a conference, and does not garner any kind of automatic qualifier into NCAA postseason competition.
"This is an exciting time for our rowing program," Sacramento State Director of Athletics Terry Wanless said. "We have worked on this for a couple years, and I'm very pleased Conference USA has given us the opportunity to join a prestigious conference. We look forward to competing for championships in the league for years to come."
Next year's rowing alignment in Conference USA will include Sacramento State, Alabama, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Old Dominion, San Diego State, Tennessee, Texas, Tulsa and West Virginia. Old Dominion and West Virginia joined Conference USA's rowing lineup this year, and San Diego State and Sacramento State will be the league's newcomers next year.
"On behalf of our coaching staff, team, administration and alumni, I would like to say how pleased and excited we are to finally become a part of a conference, especially with women's rowing now including automatic qualifiers to the championship structure for the first time this year," Sacramento State 10th-year head coach said. "We have been working very hard on conference affiliation for years, and are very honored to be part of a strong rowing conference like C-USA and grateful for the opportunity this will provide our student-athletes. We are quite familiar with our future conference foes as we have competed well against many of these schools at various regattas over the years."
Today's announcement means that all 20 of Sacramento State's intercollegiate programs are now in a conference. Fifteen of those 20 teams are current members of the Big Sky Conference.
The Sacramento State rowing program has enjoyed success over the years, combining to win three WIRA team titles over the last seven years, not to mention WIRA varsity eight crowns in 2006 and 2010. Over the last nine years, the Hornets' top boat (varsity eight) has combined for a dual-meet record of 72-30.
The Hornets open the spring season on Saturday, March 16, when the team hosts the Sacramento State Invitational.
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