Dixie State University will only contend against Brigham Young University-Hawaii for three more years before the Seasiders will no longer compete athletically.
DSU joined BYU-Hawaii in the Pacific West Conference in 2007 when it became an NCAA Division II program. Since then, there have been some close games in many different sports, including the overtime men’s basketball game Feb. 11.
According to the BYU-Hawaii press release March 28, the school has been making efforts to increase enrollment by 20 percent.
“The money being spent on athletic programs will be used to provide educational opportunities for the increasing number of students from around the world who can be served by the university,” the press release said.
Ryan Sanchez, a DSU assistant basketball coach and former player, said he is sad to see BYU-Hawaii end its athletic programs.
“They’ve been our rival,” Sanchez said. “You want to beat them up, you want to tear them apart when you play them, and now where it comes to them phasing out their athletics, it’s kind of sad to see.”
Sanchez played BYU-Hawaii six times in his three years playing at Dixie State.
“We’ve developed a pretty intense rivalry, so that will be something that’s hard to see go,” Sanchez said. “We’ve had some big-time games in [the Burns Arena] the last few years, and to not have those anymore is going to be a bit disappointing.”
DSU Athletic Director Jason Boothe said phasing out athletics over three years would be difficult because recruiting would get increasingly harder when inviting athletes to play for only three, two or one years.
“The natural concern is are they going to be able to field teams — let alone competitive teams?” Boothe said. “As a conference, we are just kind of looking at it like, ‘K, how effective is this (phasing out) going to be?’”
Boothe said he doesn’t know of any other NCAA teams that have ever tried to phase out over a multiple-year period.
“I don’t believe there have been any NCAA programs that have done it this way,” Boothe said. “I think they have just said, ‘After this next year, we’re done.’ Three years? I think that is unprecedented.”
Boothe said it is both a good and bad situation for the Red Storm.
“Good, in that, when we go to Hawaii, we will only have to play three teams instead of four,” Boothe said. “Good, in that, a lot of their student-athletes came from Utah. Negatively, it was a big rival for us.”
With the loss of the Seasiders as competition, DSU will need to look elsewhere for a new rivalry.
“We have rivals, and we’ve been getting great crowds (for games against teams) other than them,” Boothe said. “We have Chaminade, Cal Baptist, Azusa Pacific (and) Point Loma. All of those teams are going to become very, very big rivals for us.”
Boothe said BYU-Hawaii has many athletes who come from Utah. He said he expects the Seasiders to release the athletes who want to transfer to another program.
The PacWest Conference has a rule that athletes who transfer within the conference must sit out a season without playing. Boothe said he expects the conference to retract this rule for this occasion.