Editor’s note: The California Aggie has received an overwhelming number of letters urging the administration not to remove any of its 27 Intercollegiate Athletics teams. The following writings express the sentiments voiced in the majority of those submissions.
Swimming program shouldn’t be cut
At UC Davis, student-athletes strive for athletic excellence in the context of academic success. Primary focus is placed on the participants of sports programs in an effort to realize their fullest potential both academically and athletically. Intercollegiate Athletics attempts to strengthen the integration of its objectives with the academic and developmental objectives of the university while maintaining a program of academic and athletic excellence. This is the mission of UC Davis athletics.
My son Jacob signed a National Letter of Intent to compete at UC Davis in the sport of swimming. Jacob chose UC Davis because of the exemplary performance that UC Davis swimmers have demonstrated in the classroom and in the pool. I have followed the press releases carefully and read Athletics Director Greg Warzecka’s open letter to the student body. Rarely have I seen the demonstrated academic success of the program mentioned as a determining factor in choosing which sports will be discontinued. The student body and the residents of California should expect UC Davis to be true to its mission by keeping the sports that are producing the best student-athletes, and thus doing the best job of preparing young people for the challenges of life.
UC Davis swimming has proven itself as an asset to the institution. Men’s and women’s swimming and diving are two of only five teams to win a Division I conference championship. Academic accomplishments include 12 current Aggie swimmers named to the Academic All-Big West Conference team and multiple Scholar-Athlete of the Year award winners.
UC Davis is also attracting quality students to the university. Jacob was awarded the Regents’ Scholarship. Which sports have demonstrated this level of success in athletics and in the classroom? These are the questions I believe the athletics department should be asking as it goes through this process.
Swimmers have a history of giving back to their community. I could bore you with and endless list, but you don’t have to look far within your own program to see a great example.
Ted and Rand Schaal provided the single largest gift in the athletic department’s history to help see to the completion of a new facility for swimming, diving and water polo. Only six years later, all but women’s water polo is marked for possible elimination.
It’s beyond my comprehension that any of the programs demonstrating these characteristics could be eliminated. I challenge the athletic department to review its mission and objectives. Upon doing so, I’m confident the leadership will recognize programs that exemplify characteristics consistent with your mission are invaluable assets that cannot be eliminated.
I agree that the intrinsic value and life’s lessons learned from varsity participation are not more valuable in one sport over another. However, it is my assertion that some sports are further along in achieving the department’s mission and should be recognized for doing so.
Criteria for ICA cuts needs to be transparent
In 1993 and 1994, UC Davis experienced a financial crisis similar to the one we are experiencing today. Budgets were cut and jobs were eliminated. The university tried to solve this budgetary problem by cutting multiple sports teams. The students fought for their right to represent Aggie athletics, and now here we stand, 16 years later, 27 teams strong.
An announcement was made public on March 11 when The Aggie printed an article saying budget cuts could mean a loss of up to nine sports programs. The consensus among student-athletes is that the athletic department should not be immune from budget cuts. We do, however, believe that there are ways in which the budget can be balanced without the elimination of sports teams.
The coaches have put together a proposal that will allow all 27 sports to retain their varsity status. The athletic administrators have shown their unwillingness to compromise with us and rejected this plan. Therefore, a resolution was put forth to the ASUCD Senate to oppose the pending cuts, which was unanimously passed last Thursday.
This resolution essentially requests the athletic department allow a one-year transition period for threatened ICA teams for four main reasons:
1. Sports teams were informed of the proposed cuts approximately a month and a half ago, leaving little time for us to be proactive in trying to save our teams. With a one-year transition period, teams will be given the chance to increase fundraising efforts, and be given the chance to reach out and create a supportive alumnae network.
2. This one-year transition will also allow student-athletes the opportunity to transfer to another school so that they may continue to compete. The time frame at which this announcement was made is inopportune since most if not all schools’ transfer deadlines have passed.
3. In just one month, Greg Warzecka and his colleagues have been able to reduce the number of teams to be cut from nine to four. Mr. Warzecka himself thought that this task would be impossible. He claims this has been due to “some miracle.” However, the student-athletes realize that it is actually due to the hard work and perseverance of the workgroup faced with the challenging task of balancing the new budget. If this accomplishment has been made in a month’s time, think of what we could do in a year.
4. It was recently announced that the scholarships awarded to student-athletes would be honored for at least another year. Most sports that are on the “chopping block” have been fundraising to support their operating costs. If the sports are clearly able to cover these costs and scholarships are honored, it only seems logical that we should be given another year to continue to raise more funds and compete.
At the Athletics Administrative Advisory Committee meeting held April 6, one of the main agenda points was discussing statistical analysis of the academic success and graduation rates of UC Davis student-athletes in comparison to other universities of the same or higher caliber.
These stats show that UC Davis emphasizes the student first and athlete second method, creating a higher caliber athlete. An aspect that the AAAC was eager to share with the faculty and student body was that UC Davis accepts more student-athletes based on academics than it admits by exceptions, which is “a means to identify students who do not meet numerical requirements for eligibility, but who demonstrate strong likelihood of success at UC,” according to the AAAC.
If sports are cut, these data points will be negatively impacted. For example, take cutting the women’s rowing team. This team is comprised of 95 percent walk-on student-athletes who were admitted to the university based solely on their academic achievements.
Unfortunately, this whole process has been vague and mysterious. We have been told that the issues at hand reflect budgetary concerns and that it is fiscally irresponsible to keep all 27 sports at their current varsity status.
However, it was fiscally irresponsible for the university to add a 27th varsity sport this year when the administration has clearly been trying to make budgetary cuts without cutting the sports teams for years.
If this is really about budgetary issues, then we need to impact the least amount of student-athletes for the greatest amount of money saved. If teams really need to be cut, the criteria the administration is basing their cuts on should be transparent, allowing student-athletes and coaches alike to not only better understand the issues at hand, but to help with plausible solutions.
One such plausible solution is the aforementioned resolution allowing a one-year transition period for the affected student-athletes. Mr. Warzecka is too worried about the risk of this resolution and not worried enough about the welfare of student-athletes. If this requested transition year is unsuccessful, then yes, cut teams. But we deserve a decent amount of time to adjust to such a drastic and unexpected change.
UC Davis rowing team