Unlike Other Universities, UCSD Exists in Symbiosis with its Athletes

Last year, the Division I referendum sparked much controversy on campus. The referendum, if passed, would have given UCSD the opportunity to move from Division II to Division I if offered a spot in a Division I conference. If the move had been made, each undergraduate would have had to pay $495 more in student fees. The opposition asserted that only student athletes would have directly benefited from the move because they would have gained eligibility for larger scholarships.

Although the referendum failed, some students view the athletic department as parasitic, sucking more than their fair share of student funds. At UCSD, however, the privileges athletes receive are limited to a $500 scholarship per year, priority registration and an allowance for away meets. These benefits are necessary for facilitating an environment where student athletes can maximize their athletic and academic success.

For example, the $500 scholarship UCSD athletes receive helps in the recruiting process. Cross-country athletes, for instance, are given two pairs of running shoes during their season. Yet due to the number of miles these athletes must run, it is necessary for these athletes to buy four shoes — costing $100 a pop — to prevent injuries from bad shoes. The scholarship thus helps support their health and athletic success.

Moreover, all facilities available to athletes are also available to the student population; athletes and non- athletes alike can use RIMAC, Main Gym and the Spanos track. UCLA, on the other hand, is exclusive because it has separate facilities for its athletes. Student athletes are students first. At UCSD, this mentality is indicative in the way all parts of its campus are accessible to everyone, regardless of their athletic prowess.

Unlike UCSD, large Division I universities often offer full rides to their student athletes. For example, the University of Notre Dame offers athletes full ride scholarships that cover approximately $46,730 of student costs per year. Also, according to the Ohio State University’s campus newspaper, The Lantern, OSU’s Department of Athletics adjusted its 2012 budget to provide iPads to all of its student athletes in order to enhance the school’s athletic tutoring program. While the tutoring program is not in itself unfair, the $400,000 necessary to introduce iPads to the program is on the excessive side. The iPad use would not be restricted to solely academic purposes. Considering this, it is understandable that the student population feels a little resentful that student athletes have it made.

The experience of UCSD student athletes is not even close to what the mass media represents as the typical collegiate athletic experience. Instead of a place of excess and wealth, it champions academics and school pride. A perfect example of symbiosis.

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