GCU joining West Coast Conference in 2025

PHOENIX - The Lopes are on the move.

Grand Canyon University is joining the West Coast Conference, beginning in the 2025-26 academic year, the university announced on May 10.

"We are incredibly excited for this next opportunity to join the WCC, which is one of the nation's premier athletic conferences as well as one of the premier basketball conferences in the country," GCU President Brian Mueller said in a statement.

Seattle University will also join the conference in 2025.

The WCC’s membership is mostly based now in California with San Diego, Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount, Santa Clara, Pacific, San Francisco and Saint Mary’s. The only two schools outside of the state that are currently full members are Gonzaga and Portland.

Grand Canyon, which is in Phoenix, and Seattle will compete in 14 of the 16 sports offered by the WCC, but most of the attention will be on basketball.

The two schools should bolster the competitiveness in a conference that’s been top-heavy in the past on the men’s side, with Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s leading the way. Grand Canyon won its first men’s NCAA Tournament game in school history in March and Seattle’s men won the CBI.

The WCC also had two women’s teams reach the NCAAs last season after Portland won the conference tournament and Gonzaga earned an at-large bid and reached the Sweet 16.

For at least the 2025-26 competition year, the league will have 13 schools competing in most sports as Washington State and Oregon State will be in the final year of a two-year agreement to compete as affiliate members. The two Pac-12 schools were left out in the last round of conference realignment and will be affiliate members of the WCC in most non-football sports beginning with the upcoming academic year.

Seattle’s addition to the WCC is a reunion for the school after it competed in the conference from 1971-81 before the school dropped down from NCAA Division I membership. Seattle returned to the Division I level in 2008 and has competed in the WAC since 2012.

"We are excited to return home to the West Coast Conference," Seattle athletic director Shaney Fink said. "Our student athletes will receive an unparalleled experience, reaping the rewards of competing against talented peers at mission-aligned universities within a tight geographic footprint."

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.