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Davis, California

Friday, October 15, 2021

Student athletes to hold discussion on athletic cuts

Student athletes will hold a town hall meeting this evening to discuss the recent cut of four sports teams with both the UC Davis administration and members of the public.

Dubbed the “Public Forum on the Recent Elimination of 4 UC Davis Intercollegiate Sports”, the event will be held at the UC Davis Conference Center at 6 p.m. and is open to news media and the Davis community.

For the event’s organizers, tonight is about re-examining the elimination of the men’s swimming and diving, men’s indoor track and field, men’s wrestling and women’s rowing teams, as well as presenting evidence that all 27 Intercollegiate teams can be sustained.

“We’re trying to raise awareness about the cuts and how the process went about,” said Heidi Kucera, a senior nutrition major and member of the women’s swimming and diving team.

A principle aim of the gathering is to convince administration to reverse their current decision and give student athletes a transition period of one year to fundraise and pay for their teams.

“We’re trying to get a year’s stay of execution is a good way to put it,” Kucera said. “We fully understand there’s a huge budget crisis but we haven’t had a chance to fundraise yet.”

Invitations have been sent to Chancellor Linda Katehi, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Fred Wood and Athletics Director Greg Warzecka to attend. The organizers have also asked Warzecka to answer questions concerning the cuts and what it would take to maintain 27 sports.

Pre-forum speakers will include Haley Cope-Clark, an Olympic world champion swimmer and Dan Gable, former head coach of wrestling at the University of Iowa. Both will speak about the influence of UC Davis’ sports teams and the impact of losing the four sports.

The forum portion will focus on the process and the numbers behind the decision and its possible reversal.

ASUCD President Jack Zwald will discuss his meeting with Chancellor Katehi while ASUCD Controller Joey Chen will present a breakdown of the Intercollegiate Athletics budget and the sports related student fees in two student-passed referenda.

Kim Elsbach, the NCAA Faculty Athletics representative and a member of the workgroup tasked with advising Vice Chancellor Wood on the sports cuts, will also answer questions related to the process and address why she resigned.

Planners also hope the size of the conference center ballroom – which at full capacity seats 420 people – will bring the public and media scrutiny to grab the administration’s attention.

Warzecka’s use of the same location to announce the cuts is also not lost on them. “It’s a delightful coincidence,” said ASCUD Senator Alison Tanner. Tanner authored ASUCD Senate Bill #69, which passed last Thursday, to allocate $420 from Senate Reserves to rent the space.

The ultimate success of the town hall will depend on the presence of administration to engage in dialogue.

While representatives from the Athletics Administrative Advisory Committee have indicated they will attend, Wood and Warzecka, at the time of press, could not be confirmed for the event. Katehi has told the organizers that she will be away from Davis and thus unable to attend.

Although unable to gauge the impact of the event, organizers are certain that student athletes will continue to fight for restoring the sports.

“We’re in this for as long as it takes whether it’s a month, two months, three years, seven years,” said Zachary Hansen, a senior sociology major. “It doesn’t matter whether I’m still a student at the university or an alumni. Our goal is to get all these teams back and we’re going to do it through every civil avenue that we can.”

LESLIE TSAN can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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