Feb. 8, 2000
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - Five schools from the MPSF men's soccer conference, all traditional Pac-10 schools, left the MPSF men's soccer conference officially this weekend and formed a new five-team affiliation. The five schools -- UCLA, Stanford, Washington, California, and Oregon State -- will not actually qualify as a conference because the NCAA requires six teams per conference. Therefore, the schools will compete for at-large bids to the NCAA tournament.
The reason the schools left to form their own affiliation may rest on the "strength-of-schedule" criteria so highly valued by the NCAA tournament committee. The western schools did not receive a high ranking in the 1999 NCAA College Cup tournament and committee members cited a weak strength of schedule. The UCLA Bruins, ranked third nationally, found themselves at 18-2 and travelling to play a Virginia squad that finished the regular season with a 12-8-1 record. The addition of teams to the 1999 MPSF men's soccer conference actually dropped the MPSF out of the nation's top 12 conferences, meaning the conference did not receive an automatic bid.
In 1999, the five schools went a combined 24-10-1 in MPSF conference play, and that included Oregon State's 1-6 conference mark.