Here is a story from the Sac Bee that ties into the Big West:
Hornets' coach isn't throwing a block party
Debby Colberg's wishes are NCAA reforms in postseason selections and maybe a new conference.
By Sam Amick -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 a.m. PST Wednesday, December 10, 2003
It's not too late to get into a Fantasy Sports League. Sign up here.
Debby Colberg has hit the ceiling -- with her program and with her patience.
Another season, another Big Sky Conference championship, and another first-round exit in the NCAA Tournament has the Sacramento State women's volleyball coach wondering about her team's future.
With five first-round losses in six tries on the national stage, and a program that seems to have peaked in its own conference, Colberg is looking for change.
And she has a few ideas.
Colberg wants the NCAA selection process to be different, where politics and personal bias don't determine matchups and berths. Sac State was the lone Big Sky team to be selected last season, while the Big West Conference was represented by six teams.
Last week, Sac State (23-12) lost 39-37, 30-28, 30-23 to fifth-seeded Stanford in an NCAA opener.
"People in those positions should have the integrity to represent everybody, not just their own conference," Colberg said. "I think they ought to be held accountable for those types of decisions."
And if she can't beat them, Colberg wouldn't mind joining them. With some caveats, Colberg said she'd consider a move to the Big West, home to Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, Idaho, Long Beach State, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, the University of the Pacific and Utah State. UC Davis is set to join the Big West in 2004.
"The Big West would be a good fit in some ways," Colberg said. "It would worry us in terms of, can we compete budget-wise, facility-wise? After so many years (in the Big Sky), I'd be wary of not being on equal footing as our competition."
New facilities may be in the works. The Sac State athletics task force, which will issue its recommendations to president Alexander Gonzalez this month, has heard countless testimonies on the need for better digs.
As for competing in the Big West, UOP coach Jayne McHugh said a nicer home court would be a must for Sac State. No matter the environment, it seems Colberg has the respect of big-time coaches that may be necessary.
"I think the Sac State volleyball program is one of the best overall programs in the country," McHugh said. "Debby fields a competitive team every single year. Maybe Debby's coaching style would jive a little better in the Big West, where we are very serious about scheduling tough out-of-conference matches. I don't get the feeling that that's a priority in the Big Sky."
After his team survived three tough games against the Hornets, Stanford coach John Dunning gave a glowing review of Colberg.
"I've always thought Debby's (teams) were among the best-coached teams you could find," he said. "It's hard to find a team that plays as hard as hers. She's amazing."
A move to the Big West, however, would leave the football program without a home, because it is a non-football conference. And while Colberg, who was the athletics director before Terry Wanless, no longer sits in a position of power, she still has a respected viewpoint.
"I do think not having football might help the other men's sports," Colberg said. "... I can see the benefits of having a football program and the benefits of not. It is a very difficult decision. ... We need to determine the level of excellence we want from our programs. If the budget can support all 20 sports at that level of excellence, then I think we should keep all 20 sports. If not, then we need to look at making some tough decisions."
And as if there's time to worry about anything else, Colberg is faced with rebuilding her latest team. Senior setter Lisa Beauchene (Big Sky MVP) and senior outside hitter Kazmiera Imrie (All-Big Sky first team) won't be back. Junior Stephanie Gamst should fill Beauchene's shoes, and redshirt 6-foot-1 junior Natalie Melcher will replace Imrie.
This week, Sac State signed 6-1 outside/middle hitter Lindsay Haupt, a senior at Etna High School.
"Most of the time I feel pretty good about it, that we have players who will replace them," Colberg said. "It's something I've dealt with (before)."