Pacific Coast Conference

Pacific Coast Conference

The Pacific Coast Conference (PCC) was a college athletic conference in the United States which existed from 1915 to 1959. Though the Pacific-10 Conference (Pac-10) claims the PCC's history as part of its own, the older league had a completely different charter and was disbanded in 1959 due to a major crisis and scandal. The name Pacific Coast Conference is now used by a San Diego area community college league established in 1982. [ [ New PCC history] ]

Established on December 15, 1915, its charter members were the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Washington, the University of Oregon, and Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University).

Conference members

* University of California, Berkeley (1915-1959)
* University of Oregon (1915-1959)
* Oregon Agricultural College (1915-1959)
* University of Washington (1915-1959)
* Washington State College (1917-1959)
* Stanford University (1918-1959)
* University of Idaho (1922-1959)
* University of Southern California (1922-1959, suspended in 1924)
* University of Montana (1924-1950)
* University of California, Los Angeles (1928-1959)

Before the crisis

Many people think of the Pac-10 today as a collection of five regional rivalries, but this fails to take into account the other campus animosities and state rivalries which defined the Pacific Coast Conference. There were tensions between California and the Northwest schools. Edwin Pauley, a regent of the University of California, disliked the member universities in the Pacific Northwest and advocated that the California institutions leave the Pacific Coast Conference to form a "California Conference." Among other complaints, he disdained the quality of education in the Oregon and Washington schools. Pauley felt that University of California campuses deserved to play against colleges with comparably high academic standards.

The PCC had a history of being very strict with regards to its standards; it suspended USC from the conference in 1924, performed a critical self-study in 1932, and a voluminous report was compiled by Edwin Atherton in 1939. The PCC had a paid commissioner, an elaborate constitution, a formal code of conduct, and a system for reporting student-athlete eligibility.

Despite this, the conference was wracked by scandal in 1951. Charges were made and confirmed that the University of Oregon football coach had violated the conference code for financial aid and athletic subsidies. After firing the violating coach, Oregon urged the PCC to look at similar abuses by UCLA football coach Red Sanders. The conference spent five years attempting to reform itself. In 1956, the scandal became public.

The crisis

The scandal first broke in Washington, when in January 1956, several discontented players staged a mutiny against their coach. After the coach was fired, the PCC followed up on charges of a slush fund. The PCC found evidence of the illegal activities of the Greater Washington Advertising Fund run by Roscoe C "Torchy" Torrance, and in May imposed sanctions.

In March, allegations of illegal payments made by two booster clubs associated with UCLA, the Bruin Bench and the Young Men's Club of Westwood were published in LA newspapers. UCLA refused for ten weeks to allow PCC officials to proceed in their investigation. Finally, UCLA admitted that, "all members of the football coaching staff had, for several years, known of the unsanctioned payments to student athletes and had cooperated with the booster club members or officers, who actually administered the program by actually preferring student athletes to them for such aid." The scandal thickened as a UCLA alumnus and member of the UCLA athletic advisory board blew the whistle on a secret fund for illegal payments to USC players, known as the Southern California Educational Foundation. This same alumnus also blew the whistle on Cal's phony work program for athletes known as the San Francisco Gridiron Club, with an extension in the Los Angeles area known as the South Seas Fund.

Aftershocks and disbandment

The first major reaction came from the University of California system. Robert Sproul, president of the University of California, along with the chancellors of Berkeley and UCLA, drafted a "Five Point Plan", emphasizing academic eligibility standards, setting the two UC campuses apart from the PCC and laying the groundwork for their departure. For Sproul the PCC dispute was not just about athletics; at stake was the ideal of a unified University of California that enjoyed statewide support. This ideal collided with aspirations of UCLA alumni who believed that Sproul's vision would always favor the Berkeley campus at the expense of the younger UCLA campus.

Oregon State College president August Leroy Strand wrote, "The reasons for California and UCLA dropping out are as different as night and day... the significance of the whole affair was the union of Berkeley and UCLA... admissions and scholarship had nothing to do with the withdrawals..." Berkeley's desire to schedule athletic contests only with academic equals is real, though it seldom has been expressed. "The marriage of this desire on the part of Berkeley with the known ambitions and necessities of its sister institution has produced a bastard that has the bard of a purebred but the innards and hair of a mongrel."

By 1957 the conference had fallen apart, leading to the decision to dissolve in 1959. Soon after the PCC was dissolved, five of its former members (California, Washington, UCLA, USC, and Stanford) created the AAWU. After initially being blocked from admission, three of the four remaining schools would eventually join (Washington State in 1962, Oregon & Oregon State in 1964), but members were not required to play other members. Tensions were high between UCLA and Stanford, as Stanford had voted for UCLA's expulsion from the PCC.

Idaho, which was not involved in the scandals but had become noncompetitive in the PCC, was also barred from AAWU admittance in 1959. Unlike Washington State, Oregon and Oregon State, it never pursued AAWU admission in the coming years. It competed as an independent before becoming a charter member of the Big Sky Conference in 1963 and today retains no strong connections to its PCC past other than a continuing rivalry with Washington State based more on the two schools' extremely close proximity to each other than on any historical basis.

The AAWU eventually strengthened its bonds and became the Pacific 8 Conference (Pac-8), renaming itself in 1968. The conference added WAC powers Arizona & Arizona State in 1978 and became the Pac-10.

Past Conference Champions

Men's Basketball

The Pacific Coast Conference began playing basketball in the 1915-16 season. The PCC was split into North and South Divisions for basketball beginning with the 1922-23 season. The winners of the two divisions would play a best of three series of games to determine the PCC basketball champion. If two division teams tied, they would have a one game playoff to produce the division representative. Starting with the first NCAA Men's Basketball Championship in 1939, the winner of the PCC divisional playoff was given the automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. Oregon, the 1939 PCC champion, won the championship game in the 1939 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.

The last divisional playoff was in the 1954-55 season. After that, there was no divisional play and all teams played each other in a round robin competition. From the 1955-56 season through the 1958-59 season, the regular season conference champion was awarded the NCAA tournament berth from the PCC. In the case of a tie, a tie breaker rule was used to determine the NCAA tournament representative.

"*denotes Pacific Coast Conference playoff champion"
"**California won the CIBA Division 1 and USC won Division"
"2. Cal defeated USC in a playfoff for the CIBA title."
"Bold indicates National Champion"


*Edwin N. Atherton 1940-1944
*Victor O. Schmidt 1944-1959

ee also

*List of defunct college football conferences


* Games Colleges Play : Scandal and Reform in Intercollegiate Athletics, The Johns Hopkins University Press 1996, ISBN 0-8018-4716-8

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