SAN DIEGO — San Diego State will join the Big West Conference in 14 sports, including basketball, starting in the 2013-14 academic year.
Monday’s announcement came five days after SDSU announced its football team was moving from the Mountain West to the Big East beginning with the 2013 season.
School officials said their teams will gain TV exposure and decrease travel by competing in the Big West, which includes Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara. The Big West has TV contracts with ESPN and Fox Sports.
Men’s basketball coach Steve Fisher and baseball coach Tony Gwynn praised the move.
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“With the ability to now play home games and have ESPN be at the forefront, that will get people to come in and will get kids to watch,” said Fisher, who last year led the Aztecs to a record-setting season in which they went 34-3 and reached the NCAA Tournament regional semifinals. “That’s how you recruit.”
San Diego State last played a home game on ESPN in 2005.
With 14 conference games in the Big West, the Aztecs will have 16 non-conference games to fill. San Diego State will play four games against Big East opponents each season starting in 2013, and the Aztecs have discussed a home-and-home series with Connecticut.
The move to the Big West could hurt San Diego State in basketball in terms of RPI. The Mountain West was fourth in RPI while the Big West was 24th Monday.
Gwynn said the move to the Big West will strengthen the Aztecs’ schedule and help with recruiting. The Aztecs will regularly face such national baseball powers as Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine.
“In the long run, it makes a lot of sense,” Gwynn said.
CUESTA ATHLETES HONORED
The Cuesta College men and women’s cross country teams made their mark in the 2011 all-Western State Conference teams, as a combined 12 runners were honored and coach Brian Locher was named the conference’s coach of the year for the third time in four years — though this is his first for his work with the women’s team.
The honors come after the Cougar men and women qualified for their fourth consecutive state meet trip, highlighted by the women matching a school-best with a fourth-place finish.
Paul Denlinger and Tyler Gates of the men’s team and Devon Kelsey and Kasey Urman of the women’s team all made it onto the conference’s first teams. Kelsey, a recent Atascadero High graduate who finished second at this year’s California Community College Athletic Association State Cross Country Meet, also nabbed all-state honors — just the eighth Cougar to do so.
Lizzie Uscanga, Corinne Evans and Megan Cugini were selected to the conference’s second team and teammates Nikita Kinsell and Jenny Stallman earned honorable mentions.
Other Cuesta men runners recognized were Chris Gobell and Jacob Becerra, selected to the conference’s second team, and Victor Roldan was named an honorable mention.
In women’s soccer, despite having the program’s worst season in 17 years, five Cuesta College players secured spots on the all-WSC teams, with freshman defender Kailyn Murphy the lone first-team representative. Amanda Titus and Meg Lewis were named to the second team and teammates Tiffany Gonsalves and Rachel Warner were honorable mentions.
In wrestling, Cuesta College freshman Michael McAlister earned All-American status after placing fourth at 176 pounds in last week’s CCCAAA State Wrestling Championships.