PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The American Athletic Conference announced today that both Sacramento State and San Diego State will join the league as Associate Members for women's rowing beginning in the 2015 season. The American is one of two successors to the all-sports Big East Conference.
The Hornets' rowing squad, which gained intercollegiate status in 1995, will join its second conference in as many years as the team is currently competing in Conference USA before making the transition to The American in 2015.
Five schools in The American will sponsor women's rowing programs in 2015, comprised of UCF, Connecticut, SMU, Temple and Tulsa (joining The American on July 1). With the addition of the Hornets and Aztecs, The American will be a seven-team league for the sport. The American will have an automatic qualifier into the NCAA Championship, which 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.
"We are pleased to welcome Sacramento State and San Diego State to the American Athletic Conference as associate members," said Mike Aresco, Commissioner of the American Athletic Conference. "Both schools share many of the attributes of our full membership, but most importantly, having the minimum of six schools affords our student-athletes automatic qualifier access to the NCAA women's rowing championship."
The Hornets had been a member of the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association (WIRA) from 1995-2013, and the WIRA Championship had doubled as the program's conference championship event. Sacramento State has enjoyed success over the years, combining to win three WIRA team titles over the last eight years, and WIRA varsity eight crowns in 2006 and 2010.
"I am happy and grateful we will be joining the American Athletic Conference," Sacramento State head coach Mike Connors said. "We had talked about competing with a number of these schools in a conference well before the announcement of the AQs for women's rowing, so it feels great to complete that process. This is an excellent fit for our team and it's nice to see The American's commitment to women's rowing now and into the future."
The Hornets compete at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center, which has hosted many regional and national events over the years, including the NCAA Women's Rowing Championship and the Pac-12 Conference Championship. The Sacramento State Aquatic Center has hosted the NCAA Championship six times since 1997, and will so again in 2015 and 2016.
"This creates a special opportunity to compete in an elite national conference," Sacramento State Athletics Director Dr. Terry Wanless said. "We are very excited to partner with The American and its member schools to form a conference that will facilitate the opportunity for our student-athletes to qualify for NCAA postseason competition."
Of Sacramento State's 21 sports, 20 are in a conference, and 15 of those squads are current member of the Big Sky Conference. Sand Volleyball, which is in its second year of existence at the University, is the only sport not in a conference.
The Hornets' rowing squad has already competed in two spring regattas, and returns to the water next weekend at the San Diego Crew Classic.