On Monday, Nov. 22, 2017, UC San Diego became the talk of the town as it accepted an invitation to enter the Big West Conference, a long-awaited confirmation to officially become a Division-I university. After successfully obtaining outstanding student approval of a referendum in May 2016, the Big West denied the first bid and rejected the request, crushing the hearts of numerous advocates of the movement.
However, with the constant push from UCSD’s chancellor Pradeep Khosla, Director of Athletics Earl Edwards, and several other authoritative members, the Division-I progression became a reality.
The Big West Conference already consists of multiple fellow University of California institutions, giving UCSD even more of a reason to join the competition, both academically and athletically. The conference jumped from a total of nine teams including UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, University of Hawaii at Manoa, CSU Long Beach, Cal Poly Pomona, CSU Northridge, and CSU Fullerton, to a total of eleven with the addition of UC San Diego and CSU Bakersfield.
It’s been a long time coming for the university, initially opening as a Division-III institution. The transition to Division-I will require a gradual increase in student fees, the main reason for any controversy amidst the advancement. As of now, the Intercollegiate Athletics fee rests at about $134 each quarter or $402 per year without including summer school. The rise in cost will take place over three years, eventually increasing by $289 per quarter. The hope is to provide the athletics department with an additional $10 million a year in order to live up to the Division-I standards and compete with our rivals in all categories.
George Buaku, a senior guard on the men’s basketball team and Triton Athletes’ Council President, was one of the many individuals responsible for making the move possible. Although he will have already graduated by 2020, the year athletic teams will start to participate at the next level, Buaku is aware of the overall impact that the Division-I breakthrough will have. “It’s going to increase the brand name and bring more to the university as a whole. Being able to market as a D-I school will further enable us to show off our great academics and athletics.”
Danny Glascock, a redshirt senior on the men’s soccer team, was the TAC Vice President at the time the referendum was proposed. Moving forward, Glascock believes this moment will enhance the student experience in La Jolla. “It will bring more unity between students currently studying here as well as after graduating. It’s bringing light to all the good things UCSD has to offer.”