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SEATTLE -- The 16-team Pacific West Conference is breaking up.
At a PacWest executive council meeting Monday, which was part of the conference's annual fall meeting, officials approved the withdrawal of 10 of its 16 members. That total includes the two Alaska schools with college sports programs.
Central Washington University, Western Washington University, Seattle Pacific University, Seattle University and St. Martin's College (Wash.) will form a separate conference, effective July 1, 2001, with five other departing PacWest schools.
Also leaving the PacWest are the University of Alaska Anchorage, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Western Oregon University, Northwest Nazarene University (Idaho) and Humboldt State University (Calif.).
Montana State University-Billings, Western New Mexico University, Brigham Young University-Hawaii, Hawaii Pacific University, the University of Hawaii Hilo and Chaminade University (Hawaii) will continue as members of the PacWest.
"I am very excited about the prospect of forming a new conference where the two Alaska schools from the Pacific division of the Pac West Conference will join the eight schools from the West Division," UAF athletic director Randy Pitney said.
The PacWest, formed in 1981, is primarily a basketball conference made up of NCAA Division II schools. The new conference is tentatively named the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
"Our (10) schools appreciate the experience and relationships with all (16) members of the Pacific West Conference over the past several years," Seattle Pacific University athletic director Tom Box said. "However, managing a conference of 16 schools has created challenges our 10 members have determined could be better accomodated by two separate conferences.".