UCSD Needs To Plan Carefully for Division I

    Competing on an elite level with other large schools would add a sizable amount of pride and prestige for our school on the national level. But if we go big and fail, disaster will fall on the students and the program as a whole. Athletics can be hugely beneficial to a university, but they can be a financial sinkhole as well.

    As things are now, we look like we are on the right track. If things don’t go well, UCSD could go the same route UC Berkeley has recently gone, cutting prime sports such as baseball to comply with Title IX and compensate for falling ticket sales and student interest.

    Overall, colleges can only turn a profit off football and basketball. But this does not mean every school with a football and basketball team makes money, since only the big-time programs can get in the black.  To get to this level, the UCSD sports department and the school administration need to work together. First of all, athletes need to want to come here for school. Check.

    But UCSD does not plan to change admission standards for incoming student-athletes. As it stands, special admit requirements are roughly a 3.4 GPA and a 1700 SAT score. For those of you who don’t know, most superior athletes do not come with superior brains. The athletes at UCSD are, for the most part, exceptions, as the university has one of the top programs in the nation when both athletics and academics are taken into account. Yet we still mostly find success in skill-oriented sports, such as baseball and the field events in track and field, where pure athleticism is not as much of an issue.

    In the big ball sports like basketball and football, skill is extremely important, but you need big, superior athletes to have a chance. Generally, those are the athletes that placed a very low level of priority on education in high school, relying on athleticism, instead of grades, to get those admissions letters.

    So UCSD faces an important question: Do we want to be a great D-1 school, or do we want to get murdered while retaining the academic integrity of the student body?

    I think we can have both. Stanford is the best example of a great program with a high level of competitiveness athletically (ranked second in the nation as an overall program) and an exceptional level of academic integrity (ranked 14th in the world).

    To attain both of these elusive goals, UCSD needs some fundamental changes. First, and foremost for many, student fees will need to be increased for athletics. Moving divisions is an expensive investment, and the money has to come from somewhere

    Furthermore, the admission rate for incoming freshmen will need to drop by several percentage points. Such a drop has shown to make schools more lucrative, since the appearance of exclusivity is often more effective than actual educational merit, which UCSD has already. This drop will also allow the athletics department to get in more special admits without affecting the overall average. Thus, the prestige of our academics would go up, and we would be able to get the big bodies we need to compete at the next level in basketball and a possible football future.

    These changes are necessary to be competitive at the next level while retaining academic prowess, and maybe even increasing it.

    While many will not like the idea of athletes getting into school with a lower GPA, there are two sides of the coin. Many of those individuals would not be going to college at all without sports, because of either their level of intelligence or their economic background. Growing up, at least half of my friends from high school sports either could not afford college or could not get good grades because they had to help pay for their families with a job on the side. Also, these people that get in with a lower GPA worked just as hard or harder than many with higher GPAs, just in another field. Those with significant athletic ability did not get it on accident. That work ethic can be applied to the classroom and business later on.

    UCSD is going into a bright D1 future. The process is slow and the current atmosphere is difficult, but the school has the potential to fulfill its stated vision “as being one of the premier NCAA athletics programs in the nation.”


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