On Thursday, July 13, 2023, Vanguard President Michael J. Beals, Ph.D., was notified by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) that its application for membership into the NCAA Division II (DII) has been accepted. VU Athletics will now begin the three-year membership process toward full membership in the NCAA Division II and will become the newest member of the Pacific West (PacWest) Conference.
“Born out of our institutional vision to become the leading source for Christian higher education in California and after years of careful and extensive study—I am certain this upward transition to the NCAA DII will benefit our student-athletes and entire community,” said President Beals. “NCAA DII allows students to participate in highly competitive athletics with a strong commitment to balancing athletics, academics, and community engagement—all while allowing VU to remain true to our enduring Christ-centered mission and values.”
With much success over the past five years, including the launch of eight new sports programs; 20 conference regular season championships; 60 national championship appearances, four team national championships, and four individual national championships just in the past decade, Vanguard Athletics looks to the next phase of its storied history, commitment to the student-athlete and program excellence.
“Today marks the beginning of a new and exciting chapter for Vanguard Athletics!,” said President Beals. “We now begin the three-year membership process toward full membership in the NCAA Division II and will become the newest member of the Pacific West (PacWest) Conference.”
Beginning in 2024-25 season, the Lions will join the PacWest. With provisional NCAA membership secured, VU begins a three-year transition toward full membership, culminating in the 2026-27 season.
In addition to providing strong competition and balance of sport and academics, membership in the PacWest allows VU to realign with regional peer Christian institutions and reengage former rivalries of the GSAC, including: Azusa Pacific University, Biola University, Concordia University Irvine, Fresno Pacific University and Westmont College. Additional member institutions of the PacWest include: Academy of Art, Dominican University of California, as well as Chaminade University of Hawaii, University of Hawai’i Hilo and Hawai’i Pacific University.
This transition to NCAA DII parallels the construction and opening of the Freed Center for Leadership and Service—soon-to-be home to Vanguard Athletics and Kinesiology, the University’s third highest enrolled academic program. Both the transition to NCAA DII and the opening of the Freed Center demonstrate VU’s commitment to academics and athletics, whereby strong collegiate athletics rooted in academic excellence and character development provide for a dynamic student experience.
“I want to let you know how excited I am for our future—which is full of promise, as we find new ways to strengthen and expand our enduring mission to equip each student for a Spirit-empowered life of Christ-centered leadership and service,” said President Beals.
For more information and updates regarding VU’s transition to NCAA DII, visit the NCAA DII transition webpage.