Faculty delay vote on athletic grants

    Members of UCSD’s Academic Senate decided to delay a vote on Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Joseph W. Watson’s athletic scholarship proposal until next fall after faculty members expressed mixed feelings on the plan.

    Billy Wong

    Watson developed the proposal in response to recently changed NCAA Division II regulations mandating member universities, including UCSD, to offer a minimum of $250,000 in athletic scholarships by fall 2005.

    Watson’s proposal would comply with the regulation by offering a maximum of $300,000 in campus registration-fee funds.

    “We are responding to students’ concerns regarding their unsatisfactory approval of UCSD’s lack of social life,” Watson said. “We want a strategic plan for student affairs and although our top proposal is building on-campus housing for transfers, this would require $107 million, which we don’t have. The best way to improve the vitality of our school spirit now is in these scholarships.”

    Although this proposal would provide approximately $500 annually to each of the campus’ 550 athletes, Graduate Student Association Vice President Laura Kwinn said she is concerned that the money will be allocated out of students’ pockets. At an earlier meeting, the GSA passed a resolution opposing the plan.

    “As a graduate student, I support all student athletes and understand the importance [athletics] have to our campus, but I believe students will have to pay increased enrollment fees in the future to signify more money to athletes,” Kwinn said.

    Watson said the money for the scholarships would come only from registration fees and new funds resulting from growth in the student population.

    Some faculty members expressed concerns that the proposal would alter the spirit of UCSD, which has historically prided itself in accepting students based on their academic, rather than athletic, abilities.

    Kwinn said she worried the scholarship plan would open the door for the university to consider athletic ability as part of the admission process, instead of just rewarding athletes monetarily.

    “The proposal would just increase the pool of athletically gifted students at UCSD because the financial aid to students will not give them enough aid,” she said. “It doesn’t reward them.”

    Watson, however, said that no special considerations would be given since every athlete would qualify for the same amount of money as long as they maintained a 2.6 GPA in their sophomore year and a 2.7 GPA in their junior year, regardless of the sport they participated in.

    “Academics are always of top priority,” Watson said.

    However, the proposal would also allow each team to raise additional funds and appropriate them exclusively to team members, a provision that has caused uneasiness among the members of the campus’ Council of Provosts.

    Former A.S. Commissioner of Athletics Bryce Warwick, who is graduating this spring, said he does not think he will give money back to UCSD as an alumnus because he feels the university does not appreciate the effort and valuable time athletes contribute to the school.

    “You may be surprised what $500 is for a student because you can use those two or three hours [per week] to study instead of work,” Warwick said. “It may be a small monetary amount, but it can make a big difference.”

    The plan would also increase Triton spirit, Watson said.

    “We want to support students and give them school pride,” he said. “We’ll have better alumni to affiliate and come back to UCSD.”

    Former A.S. President and the A.S. Council’s representative to the Registration Fee Advisory Committee Jenn Pae also said the grants would boost campus morale and express gratitude to award athletes.

    “From the 280 schools in Division II, we are the only one that doesn’t offer aid,” Watson said. “It’s a disadvantage when we want to recruit the best students academically and on-field competitors, but it is very difficult when we don’t support aid and must tell students and parents this.”

    UCSD has obtained a waiver from the NCAA’s scholarship requirement for the 2005-06 academic year, but administrators are not sure if the association will renew it in future years.

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