Editorial: What D-I Does Not Do

School Fees, Spirit and Student Satisfaction

On Wednesday, Jan. 27, UCSD Associated Students unanimously approved a motion to put Division I status up to a campus-wide vote. If approved, it’s important to know what Division I would not do: there are no upcoming plans for a football team, no guarantee of an increase in our school’s national ranking, and most importantly, no quick “fix” for any perceived problems of campus culture.

Provided the motion passes through the necessary steps, an additional $65 fee would be added to the existing $129 Intercollegiate Athletics Association fee beginning in the quarter that our school is approved and invited into the Big West Conference. The fee would increase in subsequent quarters, and level out at $289.38.* If UCSD does not get a bid for the Big West Conference in two years, the fee becomes void.

The motion would require a majority ballot cast in favor of D-I, and at least 20 percent of the entire student body to vote on the measure for it to pass. If it passes on the ballot, the proposal will be sent to the NCAA for approval and official invitation into the Big West Conference, where we could compete alongside schools such as UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, and, Cal State Fullerton. We would not, however, be competing in PAC 12, the conference with UCLA, USC, and Berkeley.  

On top of that, UCSD won’t be adding a football team anytime soon says AS President Dominick Suvonnasupa. Considering other UC schools that have undergone a similar transition — moving to D-I without adding a football team (such as UCI, UCR, and UCSB) — will D-I really lead to strong school spirit and athletics? Even if we are accepted to the Big West Conference, will we be successful?  

What about ranking and alumni investment? Those are fairly simple to quantify — U.S News does not include sports in their ranking criteria, so D-I would have no direct effect on our school’s national ranking.

While D-I may increase alumni involvement, according to the Con Argument of the 2012 Referendum,in 2006, only 19 of 119 D-I programs in the country made money.” The Union Tribune reported that UCSD’s 2013-14 athletics budget was $8.75 million, while UCI’s was $15.9 million. According to the Knight Commission, an independent commission that gathers academic and athletic spending data, UCI spent $45,958 per athlete, yet only $25,670 per student academically. If the intention is to assume that we’re going to be gaining some type of investment from this switch, how long will that take and are we willing to just assume that it will happen at all?

“[D-I will] help us to focus on one of the main focuses for the campus, and that is that the Chancellor wants the campus to be more student-centered and I can’t think of any activity or event like athletics that brings the university together and does a lot of different things for students,” said Athletic Director Earl Edwards on The Mighty 1090 radio show.

Division I sports will not “fix” our campus culture. We concede — Division I might increase our brand recognition. But no matter how hard administration attempts to create campus culture from the top down, this is not a magical administrative cure for UCSD’s campus culture ills.

In fact, dare we say, the normally discussed problems with UCSD campus life (it’s painful to have to write “UC Socially Dead”) aren’t really problems. There are clubs on campus. Greek Life exists. Let’s not be coy, there are definitely social events on the weekends. We don’t have TGIF celebrations sponsored by Miller Beer anymore like in 1985, but we have a social campus.

We’re not vehemently against going D-I — but let’s be real about the implications of that decision. It’s not going to solve any problems of campus culture, nor is it going to make us UCLA.

 


*May 12th, 2016: This article was updated to reflect the current referendum language from $165 to $289.38.

  • disqus_Qhzi2aDMuA

    What I like about this article is that it takes into account the fact that D1 wont necessarily be some end all solution with the campus problems – socially, financially, whatever. Essentially this article asks and answers the question: What D1 doesn’t do for ME? My issue with the article is that it doesn’t talk about the real reasons athletic departments move to D1 – athletic performance, school size, competing with peers, ect. This article allows people to think selfishly about this vote rather than critically. I’m not voting yes for D1 because I’m worried about what the change will do for me personally, I am voting D1 because I don’t think enough money goes to our athletes for the amazing performances that they give and it is natural and necessary for us to move up because DII is holding those performances back.

  • John Homar

    I really liked this article. It gave me a second perspective on the topic without being overly biased.

  • roberta alexander

    Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, yet another A.S. referendum is being pranced around to move UCSD from NCAA Division II into the “upper echelons” of Division I. The usual suspects are also involved: Associated Students (who again can be counted on to be rather cavalier with student funds) and the UCSD Athletics Department, who are behind the move for obvious reasons. The pawns in this nasty and continually disingenuous game are the student athletes themselves, who are sent out to bring in the vote, seemingly expecting that they will be on the receiving end of the new found riches of increased scholarships, and the Joe Blow UCSD students who will be taxing themselves under the faulty premise that this division elevation will bring greater prestige to Tritonville and morph UCSD into a sports powerhouse like Berkeley and UCLA. This is just silly and unfounded and, in my mind, inadequate justification for shelling out the increased fees. Back in the spring of 2012 there was a previous attempt at boondoggling the students with even more outrageously inflated fees, which thankfully was challenged by enough students who really thought about the faulty premise and voted NO. I am happy to see that the Triton Editorial Board has addressed this issue with some rational and impartial thinking. If this division move is really important to the majority of UCSD students, then so be it. But, please take a look beyond the rather specious rationalizations given by the Associated Students. Moving to Division I is a costly proposition and the financial need will only increase. This may not affect today’s UCSD students but will set the tone for subsequent students. Had the students back in 2012 voted YES you would now be obligated to pay nearly $500 more per year in fees. To put this increased tax burden on future students is a big responsibility and it should be done with much introspection, evaluation and investigation.

  • Robert

    First off the numbers are wrong. First quarter increase would be $60 not $65. I’d recommend everyone getting the real hard facts at http://www.d1referendumucsd.com Secondly, we would be playing teams in the PAC-12 (i.e. UCLA, USC etc) because the D1 schedule opens up games for out of conference competitions. Also if you don’t think this will directly help our national ranking just look at UC Davis. Since their move to D1 they have surpassed us in rankings and if we’re being real I’m pretty sure we are as good if not better than them in almost every department. (the only change was they went D1) This will immediately change the climate on school, from increases alumni engagement to a sense of unity and pride within the study body. This is a vote to leave a legacy on UCSD. I don’t know about you but I want to be proud of my school as an alumni and when I talk to co-workers not have to explain to them the difference between USD and UCSD. The choice is yours Tritons! Let’s leave our mark on UCSD and align it with the top institutions in the world like we all know we are!

  • Robert

    Check out the real non-biased facts at http://www.d1referendumucsd.com
    $60 first quarter not $65 and we will be playing teams in the PAC-12 in non-conference games. This is an opportunity to leave our legacy on UCSD! This WILL increase our national rankings. Don’t believe me just ask my how