Panthers Move to Compete in South Coast Conference

By Kyle Smith

Following winning seasons by every Chaffey team participating in the Foothill Conference during the Fall semester, the Panthers moved athletic competitiveness to the South Coast Athletic Conference this spring.

"Rio Hondo and Chaffey had wanted to leave for a few years, but there was no way they could because the conference had only six schools," the commissioner of the South Coast Conference, Rich Kollen said.

Kollen explained that as a by rule, no athletic conference in California can exist with less than six participating schools. This rule had the hands of the Foothill Conference tied and while no schools petitioned to add, it eventually led to disbandment and the current state of the conference — nonexistence.

"There's mixed emotions about leaving the conference," said athletic director and head basketball coach Jeff Klein, "but we're not necessarily leaving. It was dissolved. There is no more conference."

Jeff Klein, athletic director and head basketball coach.

The schools that made up the Foothill Conference have split into already existing conferences. Rio Hondo and Chaffey both made the move to the South Coast Conference while San Bernardino Valley College and College of the Desert moved to the Pacific Coast Conference.

"Those are the schools recruiting the same kids," Kollen said.

Chaffey's migration puts them in the same conference as Mt. San Antonio College. A rivalry which already exists is likely to grow in significance.

"We will compete at their level if not above that level, but in many of our sports it might take some time to adjust." Klein said. "I think it's a natural rivalry whether we're in the conference or out of it."

While the competition is tougher now for Chaffey, facing schools like Long Beach and Mt. SAC, everybody is in a better position. Klein welcomes change and the South Coast welcomes Chaffey.

"I think they're happy in the west and we're happy to have them," Kollen said.