Nov. 13, 2001
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - With the basketball season getting underway for West Coast Conference teams this weekend, the WCC celebrates its 50th anniversary. The league's current membership consists of eight private institutions (Gonzaga, Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, Portland, Saint Mary's, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara) and has grown from just a men's basketball conference to now sponsoring 13 sports that compete on a national level. For five decades, the league has been driven by student-athletes with the common goal of academic excellence and athletic achievement.
The league was founded in 1952 in an effort to create a convenient way for five Bay Area schools to play basketball. The five charter members, including Saint Mary's, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Pacific and San Jose State, joined together 50 years ago to form the California Basketball Association, beginning play on January 2, 1953. The league expanded in 1955 to include Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine and changed the conference name to the West Coast Athletic Conference in 1956. The name was shortened to West Coast Conference in 1989.
The WCC has had 15 different schools as a part of its 50-year tradition, but the conference has stood proudly with the same eight member institutions since 1979. With the same membership for 22 years, the West Coast Conference is one of the most stable leagues in the nation, with only the Ivy League and Pac-10 retaining its membership for a longer period of time.
"Our continuity of membership is a direct result of the compatibility of the missions of our member institutions," said Commissioner Michael Gilleran. "Our institutional goals and cultures are similar, and we all strive for academic and athletic excellence. I hope, and expect, that the current member institutions will be part of the West Coast Conference for many years to come."
To recognize the league's success over the years, the WCC has created a 50th anniversary logo. Also, student-athletes at each member institution will wear commemorative WCC 50th Anniversary patches throughout the 2001-02 season. The conference will also produce a list of the West Coast Conference's Top 50 athletes, recognizing some of the many individuals who excelled while participating in WCC sponsored sports.