PROVO — BYU women's soccer coach Jennifer Rockwood is aware of the reasons behind the move to the West Coast Conference.
"Whatever's best for BYU football and BYU athletics is best for us," she said.
On the other hand, Rockwood knows this change from the Mountain West Conference to the WCC will be a boon for her program.
The Cougars are joining one of the premier soccer leagues in the nation. Rockwood noted that three WCC teams are currently ranked — Portland, Santa Clara and San Diego.
"Portland and Santa Clara have won national championships. It will certainly challenge us quite a bit and we look forward to that challenge," Rockwood said. "Hopefully we can add to the strength of the soccer programs in that conference. We're familiar with them and we've played all of them in the past. We've been to all those campuses, and I think they've all been to our campus as well."
Freedom from The mtn. will help the soccer program, Rockwood said.
"It will give us an opportunity to have more BYUtv games on. We're excited about that. The WCC teams are excited about having that national exposure when they come here. Hopefully that's something we can bring to the conference."
The WCC sponsors 12 sports that BYU competes in, including women's soccer. However, the WCC does not sponsor softball, men's and women's track and field and swimming and diving — sports that BYU sponsors.
"We've talked to the head coaches in those particular sports," said athletic director Tom Holmoe. "We've begun the process of trying to identify the best solution. There are possibilities of affiliations with other conferences. Some of these can do something of an independent scheduling. We're currently working on that and will continue to do it until it's solved."
The way Holmoe sees it, BYU and the WCC are a great match.
"The WCC is a great fit for us and we feel we are a great fit for them," Holmoe said, noting that 58 percent of BYU's alumni live within the four states represented by WCC schools. He cites the fact WCC cities are no more than a two-hour flight from Salt Lake City. The other eight members of the conference are, like BYU, private, faith-based institutions.
Rockwood is looking forward to developing new rivalries with WCC teams.
The Cougars are scheduled to play Santa Clara this year and Portland in 2012. "The chance to play those teams every year is what's exciting," Rockwood said.
From a recruiting perspective, membership in the WCC should benefit BYU, too.
"We have a lot of girls on the team from California and we have a lot of potential recruits from California," Rockwood explained.
WCC commissioner Jamie Zaninovich called Wednesday "a historic day for the West Coast Conference ... We take pride in our stability. Our conference has not changed membership in 30 years. BYU will be immediately competitive in all of our West Coast Conference sports. We automatically have some great rivalries now."
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