Our D-II Limbo: Time for UCSD to Decide

    That was back in 1972, when we were competing against schools like Point Loma and Occidental in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. At the time, UCSD was already an anomaly. For one, we were a public university. Secondly, we dwarfed the other schools in terms of enrollment, and we were only going to get bigger.

    After a few years of competition, it became apparent that UCSD did not belong in the conference — we were demolishing other schools.

    And so, we made the jump to the NCAA, where we competed in Division III as an independent. This worked out for a couple years. UCSD was able to book games against most of the former SCIAC schools, but as the school grew (in population and prominence) our teams got better, way better, than the schools we were booking games against.

    Soon enough we weren’t able to schedule games against these teams who were looking to bolster their own records, making competition as an independent next to impossible.

    The diaspora continued, and in 2001, UCSD made the move to Division II as part of the California Collegiate Athletics Association.

    Ten years later, UCSD remains in the CCAA, but has since outgrown the conference — having been consistently named one of the most successful CCAA schools and Division II members for the past five years.

    But do we still belong in Division II? UCSD has over 12,000 more students in its undergraduate population than the CCAA average, and the highest scores in both the math and verbal components of the SAT.

    But two things plainly set UCSD apart from CCAA competition.

    1. Every other conference member is a California State institution.

    2. UCSD is the only Division II school to not offer academic scholarships — and still we outperform our conference members.

    Citing the compulsory Division I report compiled by the sports department last year before we were jilted by the Big West, the aims of the respective divisions are as follows:

    Division III: Without dispersing athletic scholarships, the focus is on the participant rather than on entertainment.

    Division I: The focus is on the intrinsic value of entertainment, and athletic scholarships are to be used as a means to accomplish this.
    In short, there’s a clear difference between the aims of Division I and Division III, but even our sports department seems a little unclear of the focus of
    Division II.

    Should it concentrate on the athletes, entertainment or money? If the focus is on entertainment, why cap the amount of athletic scholarship money given out? If the focus is on participation, why give scholarship money at all?

    The ambiguity has plagued Division II. For some, Division II is a stepping stone toward the top tier, while others see it as a place for schools without the means or ambition to push up to Division I.

    UCSD’s problem is that — as it had 10 years ago — the school is finding itself too big a fish in too small a pond.

    A natural progression calls for UCSD’s eventual move to Division I. We have the facilities, or at least the means to build them. And with a prime oceanside location, we’re certainly a school that can draw top-class athletes.

    But unlike other institutions, UCSD may find opposition from an athletically indifferent student body and/or incoming chancellor.

    After all, UCSD first chose Division III because it felt that the focus should be on the participant.

    But if we’re not going to move up, is there a point in staying where we are? UCSD doesn’t generate revenue from the meager crowds we pool for a women’s soccer game against Cal State San Bernardino.

    And frankly, our audience won’t expand beyond soccer moms and the pep band unless we’re playing against big-name Division I competition.

    The thing is, the people who would come to pay and watch don’t distinguish between Division II Cal State San Bernardino and Division III Occidental, so why spend the extra money to compete in Division II?

    The Division I back-and-forth between the athletics department and the A.S. Council will continue into this school year, but the bottom line is that sooner or later a decision needs to be made.

    I’m of the “like a bandage” approach. Despite being stood up by the Big West last year, all indicators point to a move to Division I.

    Somebody’s going to have to pay the $130 fee, and if not us, then the next batch of undergraduates. We might as well get it over with now.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    Our Goal