The Western Athletic Conference today announced that an invitation for affiliate membership has been issued to and accepted by CSU Bakersfield and Dallas Baptist to join the conference in baseball starting with the 2012-13 academic year.
The additions will give the WAC a total of 10 teams for baseball as the Roadrunners and Patriots will join Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, Sacramento State, San Jose State, Seattle, Texas-Arlington, Texas-San Antonio and Texas State in 2013.
"CSU Bakersfield and Dallas Baptist will be a good fit with the baseball teams in the WAC", said WAC Commissioner Karl Benson. "We expect that they will match up well both competitively and geographically."
CSUB is entering its fourth year as an independent Division I member after announcing in 2007 that the school would add baseball beginning with the 2009 season. In just its third year as a program, Cal State Bakersfield went 33-22 last season and finished the season with an RPI of 53.
"We are very excited to accept the invitation and have our baseball team join the WAC," said CSU Bakersfield Director of Athletics Jeff Konya. "It's a testament to the excellent work done by our coaching staff, our student-athletes and our program. All have worked tirelessly to make our baseball program an attractive conference member in such a short time."
CSUB is coached by Bill Kernen who has been with the program since its inception in 2009. Kernen has compiled a 72-89 record while at CSUB. Last year, Kernen led his team to a win over defending national champion South Carolina and four other nationally-ranked opponents. His program earned its first national ranking after posting a 10-game winning streak in March 2011.
"Membership in the WAC is a major step forward for the CSUB baseball program and a validation of the work done here by our student-athletes over the past three years," said CSU Bakersfield head coach Bill Kernen. "As now structured, the WAC owns a comparable Power Index number with the Big West and in my opinion will surpass that conference in the coming years. It is our objective to continue the growth of our program at CSU Bakersfield to an elite Top 25 status and to contribute to this conference in its efforts to become a multiple-bid NCAA post-season participant. Dr. Mitchell and Jeff Konya are to be congratulated for their diligence in securing this affiliate membership and we hope to represent the university with class and excellence on and off the field."
Dallas Baptist has enjoyed a long, storied tradition of winning baseball with 32 consecutive winning seasons. As a past NAIA member, DBU qualified for 10 NAIA World Series tournaments between 1984-2002, and was ranked in the top-10 for 16 consecutive seasons, including finishing twice as National Champion-Runner Up (1985 and 2000). DBU won back-to-back National Christian College Athletic Association World Series in 2003 and 2004.
In its first six years of active membership at the NCAA Division I level and competing as an independent team, DBU has a record of 208-132 and, in just its third year as a Division I member, received an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament, becoming the first independent team to make a NCAA Regional since 1992.
"The President, Board of Trustees, and Administration at Dallas Baptist are excited about the opportunity for membership in the Western Athletic Conference," said Dallas Baptist Director of Athletics Ryan Erwin. "Our baseball program is the flagship program for our university and has a history of success at the NAIA and NCAA Division I level and the WAC will be an outstanding conference as we continue to grow and move forward."
DBU is coached by Dan Heefner who is in his fifth season at the helm of the program. Heefner holds a 145-83 record at the school. In 2011, Heefner led his team to its first ever appearance in an NCAA Super Regional, finishing the 2011 season ranked No. 16 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball. After defeating Oklahoma, TCU and Oral Roberts to win the Fort Worth Regional, the Patriots found themselves on of the final 16 teams standing at the NCAA Tournament. It marked the most successful season in DBU's Division I history.
"The invitation and acceptance to join the WAC is a testament to where this program has been and the support we receive from our administration," said Dallas Baptist head coach Dan Heefner. "It is going to be an extremely competitive league that will challenge us and require us to continue to grow. Our coaches are excited, our players are excited, and obviously our administration is behind the move one hundred percent. Our membership in the WAC is a big step for our program and one we are looking forward to making."
With the addition of CSU Bakersfield and Dallas Baptist in 2013, the WAC will play a single round robin (three-game series) schedule that results in nine weekends of conference play and a total of 27 games for each member.