Pacific Coast Conference

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Pacific Coast Conference
EstablishedDecember 2, 1915
DissolvedJune 30, 1959
Members9 (final), 10 (total)
RegionPacific Coast,
Mountain States
Pacific Coast Conference locations
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Pacific Coast Conference
EstablishedDecember 2, 1915
DissolvedJune 30, 1959
Members9 (final), 10 (total)
RegionPacific Coast,
Mountain States
Pacific Coast Conference locations

The Pacific Coast Conference (PCC) was a college athletic conference in the United States which existed from 1915 to 1959. Though the Pacific-12 Conference (Pac-12) claims the PCC's history as part of its own, the older league had a completely different charter and was disbanded in 1959 due to a major crisis and scandal. The name Pacific Coast Conference is now used by a San Diego area community college league established in 1982.[1]

Established on December 2, 1915,[2] its four charter members were the University of California, the University of Washington, the University of Oregon, and Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University).

Conference members[edit]

Membership timeline[edit]

University of California, Los AngelesUniversity of MontanaUniversity of IdahoUniversity of Southern CaliforniaStanford UniversityWashington State UniversityOregon State UniversityUniversity of OregonUniversity of WashingtonUniversity of California, Berkeley

 Full members 

Before the crisis[edit]

Many people think of the Pac-12 today as a collection of six regional rivalries, but this fails to take into account the other campus animosities and state rivalries which defined the Pacific Coast Conference. There were tensions between California and the Northwest schools. Edwin Pauley, a regent of the University of California, disliked the member universities in the Pacific Northwest and advocated that the California institutions leave the Pacific Coast Conference to form a "California Conference." Among other complaints, he disdained the quality of education in the Oregon and Washington schools. Pauley felt that University of California campuses deserved to play against colleges with comparably high academic standards.

The PCC had a history of being very strict with regards to its standards; it suspended the University of Southern California from the conference in 1924, performed a critical self-study in 1932, and a voluminous two-million-word report was compiled by Edwin Atherton in 1939. The PCC had a paid commissioner, an elaborate constitution, a formal code of conduct, and a system for reporting student-athlete eligibility. Following the submission of his report, Atherton was promptly hired as commissioner in 1940,[3] and served until his death four years later,[4] He was succeeded by his assistant, Victor O. Schmidt.[5]

The conference was wracked by scandal in 1951. Charges were made and confirmed that University of Oregon football coach Jim Aiken had violated the conference code for financial aid and athletic subsidies. After Aiken was compelled to resign, Oregon urged the PCC to look at similar abuses by UCLA football coach Red Sanders. The conference spent five years attempting to reform itself. In 1956, the scandal became public.

The crisis[edit]

The scandal first broke in Washington, when in January 1956, several discontented players staged a mutiny against their coach, John Cherberg. After the coach was fired, the PCC followed up on charges of a slush fund. The PCC found evidence of the illegal activities of the Greater Washington Advertising Fund run by Roscoe C. "Torchy" Torrance, and in May imposed sanctions.

In March, allegations of illegal payments made by two booster clubs associated with UCLA, the Bruin Bench and the Young Men's Club of Westwood, were published in Los Angeles newspapers. UCLA refused for ten weeks to allow PCC officials to proceed in their investigation. Finally, UCLA admitted that, "all members of the football coaching staff had, for several years, known of the unsanctioned payments to student athletes and had cooperated with the booster club members or officers, who actually administered the program by actually referring student athletes to them for such aid." The scandal thickened as a UCLA alumnus and member of the UCLA athletic advisory board blew the whistle on a secret fund for illegal payments to Southern California players, known as the Southern California Educational Foundation. This same alumnus also blew the whistle on Cal's phony work program for athletes known as the San Francisco Gridiron Club, with an extension in the Los Angeles area known as the South Seas Fund.

Aftershocks and disbandment[edit]

The first major reaction came from the University of California system. Robert Sproul, president of the University of California, along with the chancellors of Berkeley and UCLA, drafted a "Five Point Plan", emphasizing academic eligibility standards, setting the two UC campuses apart from the PCC and laying the groundwork for their departure. For Sproul the PCC dispute was not just about athletics; at stake was the ideal of a unified University of California that enjoyed statewide support. This ideal collided with aspirations of UCLA alumni who believed that Sproul's vision would always favor the Berkeley campus at the expense of the younger UCLA campus.

Oregon State College president August Leroy Strand wrote, "The reasons for California and UCLA dropping out are as different as night and day... the significance of the whole affair was the union of Berkeley and UCLA... admissions and scholarship had nothing to do with the withdrawals . . . the marriage of this desire on the part of Berkeley with the known ambitions and necessities of its sister institution has produced a bastard that has the bard of a purebred but the innards and hair of a mongrel."

By 1957 the conference had fallen apart, leading to the decision to dissolve in 1959. Soon after the PCC was dissolved, five of its former members (California, Washington, UCLA, Southern California, and Stanford) created the Athletic Association of Western Universities. This new conference negotiated an agreement with the Tournament of Roses to send its champion to the Rose Bowl Game which effective with the 1961 Rose Bowl. After initially being blocked from admission, three of the four remaining schools would eventually join (Washington State in 1962, Oregon and Oregon State in 1964), but members were not required to play other members. Tensions were high between UCLA and Stanford, as Stanford had voted for UCLA's expulsion from the PCC.

Idaho, which was not involved in the scandals but had become noncompetitive in the PCC, was also barred from AAWU admittance in 1959. Unlike Washington State, Oregon and Oregon State, Idaho did not pursue AAWU admission, and competed as an independent before becoming a charter member of the Big Sky Conference in 1963. Idaho retains no strong connections to its PCC past, other than a continuing rivalry with neighboring Washington State; the two land grant campuses are just eight miles (13 km) apart on the Palouse.

The AAWU eventually strengthened its bonds and became the Pacific-8 Conference (Pac-8), renaming itself in 1968. By 1971, most Pac-8 schools played round-robin conference football schedules, and the two Oregon schools were again playing USC and UCLA on a regular basis. The conference added WAC powers Arizona and Arizona State in 1978 and became the Pacific-10 Conference (Pac-10). On July 1, 2011, the conference added Colorado from the Big 12 and Utah from the Mountain West (also a former WAC member) and became the Pac-12. The Pac-12 claims the PCC's history as its own, though it operates under a separate charter.

Conference champions[edit]

The official record book of conference champions was compiled by the then acting commissioner Bernie Hammerbeck in 1959.[6]

Men's basketball[edit]

The Pacific Coast Conference began playing basketball in the 1915-16 season. The PCC was split into North and South Divisions for basketball beginning with the 1922-23 season. The winners of the two divisions would play a best of three series of games to determine the PCC basketball champion. If two division teams tied, they would have a one game playoff to produce the division representative. Starting with the first NCAA Men's Basketball Championship in 1939, the winner of the PCC divisional playoff was given the automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. Oregon, the 1939 PCC champion, won the championship game in the 1939 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.

The last divisional playoff was in the 1954-55 season. After that, there was no divisional play and all teams played each other in a round robin competition. From the 1955-56 season through the 1958-59 season, the regular season conference champion was awarded the NCAA tournament berth from the PCC. In the case of a tie, a tie breaker rule was used to determine the NCAA tournament representative.

SeasonConference Champion (#)Tournament Champion (#)
1915-16California (1)
Oregon State (1)
1916-17Washington State (1)
1918-19Oregon (1)
1919-20Stanford (1)
1920-21California (2)
Stanford (2)
1921-22Idaho (1)
1922-23Idaho (2)
1923-24California (3)
1924-25California (4)
1925-26California (5)
1926-27California (6)
1927-28USC (1)
1928-29California (7)
1929-30USC (2)
1930-31Washington (1)
1931-32California (8)
1932-33Oregon State (2)
1933-34Washington (2)
1934-35USC (3)
1935-36Stanford (3)
1936-37Stanford (4)
1937-38Stanford (5)
1938-39Oregon (2)
1939-40USC (4)
1940-41Washington State (2)
1941-42Stanford (6)
1942-43Washington (3)
1943-44California (9)
Washington (4)
1944-45Oregon (3)
UCLA (1)
1945-46California (10)
1946-47Oregon State (3)
1947-48Washington (5)
1948-49Oregon State (4)
1949-50UCLA (2)
1950-51Washington (6)
1951-52UCLA (3)
1952-53Washington (7)
1953-54USC (5)
1954-55Oregon State (5)
1955-56UCLA (4)
1956-57California (11)
1957-58California (12)
Oregon State (6)
1958-59California (13)


YearConference Champion (#)WLTPtsOppWLT
1916*Oregon (1)2013320601
Washington (1)3016210601
1917Washington State (1)300463600
1918California (1)200720720
1919*Oregon (2)2103320513
Washington (2)2103331510
1920California (2)3001047900
1921California (3)40016710901
1922California (4)4001467900
1923California (5)500667901
1924Stanford (1)3019236711
1925Washington (3)50088241011
1926Stanford (2)400112401001
1927*Stanford (3)4017832821
USC (1)4019938811
1928USC (2)4018420901
1929USC (3)610258291020
1930Washington State (2)60013420910
1931USC (4)700259131010
1932USC (5)600112131000
1933Oregon (3)4104529910
*Stanford (4)4105623821
1934Stanford (5)500937911
1935California (6)4105522910
*Stanford (6)410607810
UCLA (1)4107539820
1936Washington (4)70114121721
1937California (7)601137261001
1938California (8)610107371010
*USC (6)61013136920
1939USC (7)50212121802
1940Stanford (7)700141661000
1941Oregon State (1)72012333820
1942UCLA (2)61014658740
1943USC (8)5009513820
1944USC (9)30212939802
1945USC (10)51010743740
1946UCLA (3)700216451010
1947USC (11)60014720721
1948*California (9)600155401010
Oregon (4)70012548920
1949California (10)700220801010
1950California (11)50112428911
1951Stanford (8)610152101920
1952USC (12)600174321010
1953UCLA (4)61017241820
1954UCLA (5)60025626900
1955UCLA (6)60019737920
1956Oregon State (2)611152104731
1957*Oregon (5)62012481740
Oregon State (3)620147110820
1958California (12)61012785740

* Denotes PCC representative in Rose Bowl for shared conference championships



*denotes Pacific Coast Conference playoff champion
**California won the CIBA Division 1 and USC won CIBA Division 2. California won the whole division title by beating USC in the CIBA playoff


See also[edit]


  1. ^ New PCC history
  2. ^ (Portland) Oregon Daily Journal. December 3, 1915. "Four Colleges Form Coast Conference at Very Secret Session"
  3. ^ "Coast colleges name Atherton boss". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. January 6, 1940. p. 10. 
  4. ^ "Edwin Atherton, Coast football czar, dies". Berkeley Daily Gazette. United Press. September 1, 1944. p. 11. 
  5. ^ "Coast schools appoint new commissioner". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. September 2, 1944. p. 2, part 2. 
  6. ^ "When the Pacific Coast Conference was dissolved". Eugene Register-Guard. 2 March 1960. Retrieved 13 October 2013.