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Grand Canyon head coach Russ Pennell explains jump to Division I, WAC

The former Division I coach spoke about the long road to admittance to the WAC after three years of lobbying for entrance into the conference.

After three years of lobbying to enter the ranks of Division I basketball, Grand Canyon University will begin the 2013-14 season as a member of the WAC conference, according to the Doug & Wolf Show via

The university announced the move in front of 5,000 students and faculty at its arena on Wednesday, and head coach Russ Pennell joined the show in order to talk about what he and the program went through in order to move up.

The requirements include allotting an adequate number of scholarships and playing almost exclusively Division I opponents, among many others. The long process of applying for membership in the WAC was one that made the Pennell proud.

"Now we just have to up the ante a little bit more and start to recruit a higher-caliber player," Pennell said.

Three years ago, there was a moratorium on taking on new Division I teams, and that rule made GCU's move more difficult. Under the new guidelines, a conference must accept a school on a probationary basis before gaining full admittance. The WAC was a good fit due to the conference currently undergoing a restructuring phase.

"They're trying to kind of reinvent themselves, and I think we're part of that process, so we're real grateful for that opportunity," said Prennell.

The hardest part for GCU was finding a league that would accept them and take them on as a newcomer. Having overcome that obstacle, the hard work of trying to compete with Arizona State and the University of Arizona for the state's top talent begins.