May 23, 2024

We made it. This year, California Baptist University Athletics will be competing at the highest level, Division I.

“There is a tremendous sense of accomplishment now that we are a fully-fledged NCAA Division I program,” said Tyler Mariucci, director of Athletics. “I am so excited for our coaches and student-athletes because they now have the opportunity to compete for national championships on the large stage the NCAA has.”

This means CBU is going up against some of the most prominent schools in the country like UCLA and Brown University.

“Now it’s kind of like our chance to go out and compete against all these big schools and win a championship,” Jordan Lane, captain of the men’s soccer team said. “It is a chance to go up against recognized schools.”

The doors of opportunity have swung wide for the Athletics program thanks to this significant event. One of the national championships CBU Athletics may be able to participate in now that we are fully in is March Madness.

“There is a shift in mindset that comes with it,” Lane said. “Because in our conference we cannot go to any playoffs, you are taking a more [aggressive] approach. Every game is a championship because you have to win the conference outright, whereas now that we can actually go to playoffs — now we actually have a second chance. When we play, we have the chance to get something big.”

CBU has been working its way up to Division I for 53 years.

“CBU was a dominant force in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 1969 to 2011,” Mariucci said. “We first became a fully-fledged NCAA Division II member in 2013-14 and then announced our move to NCAA Division I status and the Western Athletics Conference in January 2017.

“It has been a long journey to full NCAA Division I membership for CBU, and it is the realization of a lot of great planning, hard work and investment from our leadership.”

Division I status is a benefit to all of CBU.

“This brings increased exposure to CBU as a whole because we are competing against some of the most recognizable institutions in all of college athletics,” Mariucci said.

Now, the school will have the opportunity to become more recognized.

“That is the goal: to go and be with the best of the best,” Lane said.

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