Fee referendum being pondered

    In the face of a sizable cut to UCSD’s athletics department budget, the A.S. Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletic Funding Issues recommended to the A.S. Council on Wednesday that a fee referendum for athletics funding be a part of the upcoming elections ballot.

    The suggested referendum would incur a $26.50 quarterly charge to students for the purpose of maintaining the current level of athletics programming.

    When UCSD chose to move to Division II in 2000, Vice Chancellor Joseph Watson provided $3 million from reserves to fund the transition. This money will run out next year, and the athletics budget will be cut in half if no additional funding is found.

    The task force concluded that the only way to raise the money was through a referendum.

    Newly appointed A.S. Commissioner of Athletics Robin Shelton chaired the task force, which included representatives from each college, Triton Athletes Council, the A.S. Council, Triton Tide and three at-large representatives. Several of the representatives are athletes.

    “”The purpose of this is solely to maintain our current funding level,”” Shelton said. “”It is the best possible thing that could be done, given our situation.””

    Cat Nolan, the Warren college representative and a member of UCSD’s track and field team, said the referendum must pass the council and the student body.

    “”If the referendum does not pass, I feel sorry for the student body,”” Nolan said. “”It would be detrimental to the morale and spirit of UCSD. I do not want to come back as an alumni next year and see an athletic program stripped of its parts.””

    The task force looked at other options, including sponsorships, donations, apparel rights, concessions, fund-raising, registration fees, sports camps, and radio and television, but ruled them out because they were deemed either infeasible or would not provide enough funding.

    “”All options were carefully looked at and evaluated so that the final product of the task force would be the best for the students,”” said TAC representative Steve Martin. “”I feel that is what happened since the task force was all student-run and student-initiated.””

    Martin is also an athlete, and competes on the men’s cross country and track and field teams.

    If the A.S. Council approves the task force’s recommendation, the fee referendum of $26.50 will appear on the ballot second week of spring quarter. Most of the fee will go to intercollegiate athletics, $1 will go to the sports clubs and 25 cents will go to the recreation clubs.

    Shelton stressed that the referendum is designed only to maintain UCSD’s current program and not to improve it.

    “”This is something that maintains the Chevy status,”” he said. “”It’s not the Lexus, it’s not the Rolls Royce.””

    UCSD’s 23 intercollegiate sports teams now operate on a budget of $2.4 million per year. UC Davis, also in Division II, has 25 sports running on a budget of $7 million. UC Davis students currently pay $76 per quarter for athletics.

    UCSD averages $104,000 per sport, well below the averages of UC Davis, Chico State, Cal State San Bernardino, Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Bakersfield and Cal State Los Angeles, all of which are UCSD’s competitors.

    Shelton pointed to the teams’ travel budgets. UCSD sports teams travel to their away games the day of the event, instead of the night before, to save money. Other teams are then better rested and not jet-lagged, while UCSD athletes suffer the consequences, he said.

    The task force’s recommendation lists potential consequences of the referendum’s failure. According to the recommendation, the decrease in funding “”would produce a negative cloud over the university.””

    The recommendation states that the quality of the social environment and athletic programs, and the level of campus spirit would drop if the referendum fails.

    The task force also said that if the referendum fails, UCSD does not have the option of returning to Division III.

    Martin said he believes the referendum is important for reasons other than just maintaining funding.

    “”The referendum is just one of the ways to ask students to join together for a common cause that can benefit all of us in the end,”” he said.

    “”We will be glad we did. I hope the trend of increased athletic support continues in the future and creates a forum for students to support and encourage our teams,”” Martin said.

    The task force’s recommendation will come on the table at the A.S. Council meeting Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in Price Center Ballroom A.

    It must pass the council to become a student fee referendum.

    “”Over the past two years with the temporary funds, the task force feels as if the students and campus have received a ‘sneak preview’ of what UCSD athletics are capable of and what it does for the university,”” states the task force’s recommendation.

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