Intercollegiate athletics is an integral part of student life at Azusa Pacific. The university views athletics, a "lab of life," as an opportunity to develop and display unique physical abilities while glorifying God in teamwork and competition. Intercollegiate athletics also brings together the university in a distinctive manner that serves as a venue to reach into local communities and forge new and lasting relationships.
Most Cougar teams are part of the uniquely diverse and scenic Pacific West Conference, a 12-member association of schools from Hawaii, southern and central California, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Azusa Pacific is an affiliate member for football in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, women’s water polo in the Golden Coast Conference, and women’s swimming and diving in the Pacific Collegiate Swim and Dive Conference. Azusa Pacific's acrobatics and tumbling team competes in the National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association.
In the summer of 2014, the university completed a three-year process earning the 19-sport Cougar athletics program membership in Division II of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). In the university’s first five years of active Division II membership, Azusa Pacific has hosted NCAA regional playoffs in men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, and men’s tennis. In addition, the Cougars have produced eight individual national champions in track and field and individual national champions in men’s tennis singles and doubles competition, along with Elite 8 berths as the West Region champions in men's and women's basketball, and the program’s first two NCAA Division II football playoff appearances (2016 and 2018). In 2018-19, Azusa Pacific won the Pacific West Conference's Commissioner's Cup as the top athletic program in the conference. Overall, Azusa Pacific has claimed 26 conference titles since transitioning to NCAA Division II.
Azusa Pacific has also reinvigorated its longstanding rivalry with Biola University with the creation of the Cornerstone Cup, highlighting all competitions between the two institutions. Azusa Pacific has won the Cornerstone Cup both years it has been contested.
Men’s intercollegiate competition is offered in the following sports: baseball, basketball, cross country, football, soccer, tennis, and track and field (indoor and outdoor). Women’s intercollegiate competition is available in acrobatics and tumbling, basketball, cross country, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field (indoor and outdoor), volleyball, and water polo.
Students who participate in Azusa Pacific’s intercollegiate athletics program must meet NCAA and conference academic eligibility requirements. Registration with the NCAA Eligibility Center and completion of academic and amateurism requirements also impact a student’s eligibility to compete in intercollegiate athletics. Scholarships are awarded for special athletic skills, and financial aid is also awarded on the basis of financial need and/or superior academic achievement. The university is fully committed to the academic success of each student-athlete, to his or her physical welfare, to the principles of fair play, and to compliance with all NCAA rules and regulations.
Prior to joining NCAA Division II, the Cougar athletics program was governed by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Azusa Pacific captured 37 NAIA national championships, the third-most in association history, and won eight consecutive Directors’ Cups, which recognized Azusa Pacific as the NAIA’s best overall athletics program from 2005-12. Including 14 national championships awarded by other associations, Azusa Pacific teams have claimed a total of 51 national championships.