A.S. President Utsav Gupta has recruited university officials to pitch in for a consultant to evaluate moving sports teams to Division-I and the possibility of starting a football team at UCSD.

Together, Gupta — along with Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Penny Rue and Director of Athletics Earl Edwards — hired consultant Carl McAloose from Athletics Staffing and Consulting — a company that specializes in advising universities on the development of their athletics programs.

McAloose will begin work this quarter analyzing the university’s budget and determining if either D-I or football is feasible. If so, he will then estimate how much it would cost to implement either plan.

The $28,000 McAloose is charging for his services will be split evenly among A.S. Council, the chancellor’s fund, the vice chancellor of student affair’s fund and the athletics department, according to Gupta.

“We are getting a good deal with this consultant,” Gupta said “We have debated the issue of Division-I sports and a football team every year I have been on A.S. [Council], and now we will actually find out the costs of these things.”

He praised the partnership between the council and the university departments involved in hiring McAloose. According to Gupta, Chancellor Marye Anne Fox was the first to suggest splitting the cost of hiring a consultant.

“We have set up an amazing partnership with the administration so that A.S. [Council] is really only paying one-fourth of the total costs,” Gupta said. “It is an unprecedented level of partnership.”

Chancellor Fox said she was willing to help pay for the consultant in order to explore all options on the table for the athletics department.

“Intercollegiate athletics are an important part of the college experience for our students,” she said in an e-mail. “UC San Diego has grown over the last 50 years to become one of the top public universities in the nation; this is an opportunity to explore taking UC San Diego athletics to the next level as well.”

Fox added that the consultant’s findings will determine whether the administration is interested in putting money or time into a football team or move to D-I.

“The purpose of contracting with a consultant is to provide the campus with research and recommendations regarding the feasibility of making a move from Division-II to Division-I athletics and the optimal mix of sports, based on the size, resources and fundraising capabilities of the university,” Fox said. “The consultant’s findings will inform decision about any future steps.”

The $7,000 cost paid by the A.S. Council will be taken from enterprise income: money generated by council-owned businesses, such as A.S. Soft Reserves and A.S. Lecture Notes.

The results of the consultant’s study will be renewed by the 2010-11 A.S. Council, which will then decide whether to pursue the issue. The new council will take office Week Seven of this quarter.

Campuswide Senator and A.S. President-elect Wafa Ben Hassine said that she was in favor of hiring the consultant, as well as the proposal to move the UCSD athletics program to D-I.

“I do support the passage of legislation for the $7,000,” Ben Hassine said. “There has been a lot of debate about football and Division-I sports, so it will be nice to see if these options are possible.”

However, she said she would not support the creation of a football team, even if the consultant determined the idea was financially feasible.

“I am against forming the football team right now, because I don’t believe it is fiscally responsible at the moment,” Ben Hassine said. “Regardless, a football team involves student fees. There is no way that there could be a football team created without student fees, and I don’t agree with that.”

Ben Hassine added that the university should prioritize lowering the cost of education over acquiring a football team. However, she said she was in favor of moving current teams to D-I because it wouldn’t require as much money.

“We need to be investing in other things like scholarship programs and ensuring that students with UCSD degrees are able to find jobs later on,” she said. “I love football, and I’m not opposed to having a football team ever, I just don’t think it is the right time now. As for Division-I sports, I think it is great to have a consultant helping us see if that’s possible.”

Despite Ben Hassine’s reluctance to pursue a football team, Gupta said McAloose’s work is still valuable, because it will provide concrete financial projections for the university to review.

“I hope that [Ben Hassine will] at least give students a choice,” he said. “It’s an issue students care about, and it’s the role of the president to be flexible and not push personal opinions.”

McAloose will submit a proposal by the end of the summer.

Readers can contact Megha Ram at [email protected].

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