Football May Be Out of Our League, But Not a D-I Liftoff

Yuiko Sugino/Guardian

Just when we thought we were waking up from the Triton football dream, A.S. President Utsav Gupta has gone and hired an athletics consultant to measure the feasibility of his monumental pet project. The student council is chipping in $7,000 for university athletics expert Carl McAloose to evaluate the cost of a brand-new football program along with what it would take to move existing UCSD teams to Division-I.

Despite the fact that A.S. President-elect Wafa Ben Hassine has made it clear she plans to trash Gupta’s dream faster than we can say “student fees,” the hiring of McAloose is not entirely in vain. Not only did the money come from the A.S. Enterprise income (not direct activity fees) but Gupta persuaded the administration to cover the remaining $21,000 of the $28,000 cost — no small feat in the age of the bleeding budget. At town halls and public meetings held this year on the prospect of a football team, its estimated cost has fluctuated from $1 million to $16 million. A professional study of what it would take to make it happen is valuable knowledge for everyone involved in the debate. If it’s far too expensive, it will hopefully put the pigskin to rest, or if it turns out more feasible than we thought, a future council could continue to negotiate a deal with the university.

Though we predict that the final estimate won’t be worth all UCLA’s school spirit and Berkeley’s prestige combined, we’re much more hopeful that McAloose’s study will bring us one step closer to a D-I athletics upgrade (which Ben Hassine is much more ready to support).

Understandably, many university athletes don’t want to make the move — it would be a bummer to go from being the No. 1 D-II school in the nation to being at the bottom of the top. Should UCSD make the upgrade, Triton athletes would have to wait as long as four years before being able to compete at nationals. But as our teams hit their D-II peak and the upgrade option opens up next fall, it’s time to think long-term.

Football isn’t the sole reason we’re only third best in the UC popularity contest; our D-II status is just as much a reason we’ve always lagged in reputation behind Berkeley and UCLA. An upgrade would place us in the same league as our sister schools and pit us against top-caliber teams across the country — garnering more publicity from spectators, current students and prospective students alike. We’d also be able to offer athletic scholarships; suddenly a 70-degree year-round climate wouldn’t be the only perk we could offer high-school recruits uninterested in attending a nerdy science-only institution.

Most importantly, the prestige and student investment that would come from a D-I ranking could bring in some sizeable donations for the Alumni Association for something other than cancer research. And hey, if a the D-I move works out, maybe a few years down the line, we can talk football. Until then, baby steps.