Proposed Division I Referendum: How Should We Vote?

    It’s a move that could be financially burdensome to an already heavily taxed student body. But the move will have only positive effects for the university. 

    The initiative began in the A.S. Council as a response to student requests dating back to the 2005 USES report, and was further confirmed in more recent student surveys conducted by A.S.  Council. Perceived benefits include a boost in the pedigree of a UCSD degree, a legacy to come back to and greater school spirit.

    The pros and cons are obvious. Opponents point to the cost of making the move, while supporters argue the tangible benefits of a stronger athletic department and the increased national visibility such competition would bring. The difference is all too clearly illustrated by the disparity between UCSD and UCLA.

    At UCSD, groundbreaking research and increasingly bright undergraduates propel the university up college rankings, but out-of-towners all too often mistake us for San Diego State. Bruins never have to worry about ‘rebranding’ or being confused with Cal State Los Angeles. We are competitive in terms of faculty and educational value, but Berkeley and UCLA still top us in the number of applicants. 

    Name recognition is the key to really impressing employers. The employer’s pathological response to recognizing a school is, “Hey I know this place, I feel good about knowing it, I feel good about this job candidate.”    

    Being a Division I school will get UCSD’s name out there, competing against big-name schools like Santa Barbara, Stanford and Cal, and helping the degree be perceived as worth more than it is at present.

              What is it?

    The initiative is for a $166 per quarter raise in student fees. This would bring the athletics budget to around $8 million, a middle-of-the-road number similar to other teams in the Big West.
       Moving to Division I is only possible if we have a conference. If the referendum passes, UCSD has until 2014 to be invited into a conference. Until then, there would be no change.
       
    Once invited, UCSD will have one transition year before moving to Division I — a necessary provision considering we currently offer the minimum amount of scholarship money permissible i
    n Division II, which is several million less than what is required in Division I. In this transition year, the student fees would allow the Tritons to meet the minimum Division I requirement.

    Theoretically, the move would follow this timeline. After the referendum passes Winter Quarter of 2012, UCSD is invited to the Big West Spring Quarter 2013. Fees would increase for the 2013-14 school year, in which time athletic and non-athletic scholarships would increase. In the 2014-15 UCSD would compete in Division I as part of the Big West Conference.

              Paying for It

    Current freshmen will be take the brunt of the cost due to the likelihood is that we will not be invited to the Big West for several years. In addition, 29 percent of all student fees return to finanical aid.

              Are we ready?

    The baseball field needs lights and flushing toilets, but other than that and a few other small projects, the UCSD facilities are already better than all the other teams in the Big West. RIMAC’sindoor facility and our track are far better than anyone else except for San Diego State’s basketball arena, for obvious reasons. Repairs to current facilities are already underway, by using purely team-by-team fundraising initiatives that cost the students nothing.

    From a coaching standpoint, almost all our coaches have experience at the Division I level. Basketball coach Chris Carlson was at UCLA, Track and field coaches Tony Salerno and Darcy Ahner were at Air Force and Arizona, respectively, and most other coaches are already at the Division I level, like the head women’s and men’s swimming coaches Corrie Falcon and Matt Macedo.

    UCSD has outgrown the level of competition of other CCAA schools. We dominate in most Division II sports we take part in, despite the fact that we are at the minimum level for athletic scholarships in Division II, against fully funded D-2 programs. UCSD won the Chancellor’s Cup —  given to the school that the most conference titles and accolades of any school — four of the last five years. 

    If the referendum doesn’t pass, UCSD will probably never go Division I.

    “This referendum is vital to our success in the future,” Athletic Director Earl Edwards said. If the referendum is blocked, the Big West will be even less inclined to consider UCSD.


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