The California Pacific Conference is one of the most diverse Division II leagues in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). And now the conference has expanded that diversity to two new regions in the Southwest, with a total membership of ten schools for the 2013-14 academic year.
With the addition of La Sierra University (Riverside, Calif), the Cal Pac has strengthened its future with six teams in northern California and four members in southern California and Arizona. Conference members come from the California State and University of California systems, various religious affiliations, and liberal arts colleges. California Maritime Academy (Vallejo, CA), Embry-Riddle (Prescott, AZ), La Sierra University (Riverside, CA), Marymount California University (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA), Menlo College (Atherton, CA), Pacific Union College (Angwin, CA), UC Merced (Merced, CA), Simpson University (Redding, CA), Soka University USA (Aliso Viego, CA), and William Jessup University (Rocklin, CA) make up the current conference membership.
As a result, the conference will span from the Oregon border, to the Bay Area, to Central California, Southern California, and Arizona.
A Five-Star Conference of Character, the Cal Pac is committed to the Champions of Character program, focusing on student-athlete experience.
The Cal Pac offers nine championships in five women's sports (basketball, cross country, soccer, softball and volleyball) and four men's sports (basketball, cross country, golf, and soccer). The league will have direct qualification into the NAIA national championships in eight of those sports, with softball taking part in a separate qualifying tournament.
The conference was chartered in May 24, 1995, by seven Bay Area institutions: Bethany, Cal Maritime, Dominican College, Holy Names, Pacific Union, Patten College and Simpson.
League membership soared to its highest level in 1999-2000 when Mills College joined to become the 12th member.
The first conference action took place 1996-1997 with seven of the eight charter members playing a league basketball schedule. The Cal Pac was created during a time period in which many NAIA schools in the West were leaving for NCAA Division II or III conferences. As recently as 1992, there were only two NAIA schools in Northern California. The implementation of the Cal Pac allowed for a reverse trend as it attracted eight new members into the NAIA, including five which had been long-time NCAA schools.
A foundation existed for the formation of an NAIA-affiliated conference in Northern California when two Oakland schools, Patten (1993) and Holy Names (1994) joined Bethany and Dominican in the NAIA, with Pacific Union joining in 1995. Bill Fusco, then-Dominican athletic director, spearheaded the idea of pulling more teams into the Association with the goal of creating an affiliated conference.
The conference has made purposeful improvements in recent years, ranging from the stylistic upgrades of its logo, improved use of technology for its website and reporting, significant creativity in awards, increased representation and involvment at the national level by its leaders, and a constant assault on competitive success by its coaches and student-athletes.
This exciting new era includes a leadership shift in the Cal Pac. Don Ott serves as the league's commissioner, joining the conference in 2007 and the first commissioner without a member institution affiliation. Marv Christopher of California Maritime Academiy is the conference president and Gary White of Marymount California is vice president. Keith Spataro of Menlo is the league's representative to the NAIA's NAC. Dr. Michael Brophy, the president of Marymount California, leads the conference's Council of Presidents and sits on the NAIA's COP group.
Matt Davis, a former Cal Pac head coach and college professor, serves as Sports Information Director. NAIA Hall of Famer, Dr. James Davies, is the faculty athletic representative/eligibility chair.