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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Fourth athletics town hall meeting breaks trend

The last of four town hall meetings to discuss the hiring of a new athletics director was held on Wednesday.

Like the three previous meetings, the talk centered on the Dempsey Report, which proposes paths for UC Davis athletics to make a transition from the current “educational model” to a “business model.” The change could include cutting five sports or significantly altering athletics spending in order to raise the ratio of dollars per student athlete.

While the meeting covered the same topics, the tone was very different from the heavily anti-Dempsey Report sentiments seen in the prior three meetings.

Indeed for the first time a pro-Dempsey Report speaker kicked off the proceedings.

“When we made the move to Division I, there was a great deal of excitement and energy,” said alumnus and former Aggie Pack MC Chris Perry. “Now that momentum is gone. There is stagnation within UC Davis athletics. All that potential we saw is gone. The report has nailed what I’ve been trying to say.”

Perry’s sentiments were later echoed by the first football player to speak at a town hall meeting — redshirt freshman Jacob Waas.

“Dr. Dempsey provided an in-depth analysis that UC Davis can use to exploit its strengths, improve in its weaknesses and explore its opportunities,” Waas said. “I’m here to say let’s take that step forward.”

While the Dempsey Report certainly received support at the meeting, there was also a fair amount of frustration stated as well.

“Every student athlete is a part of this community,” said senior water polo player Lindsay Sutterley. “We want to make the sports strive to be their best, but cutting sports is not going to do that.”

One anti-Dempsey Report speaker invoked the pedophilia allegations levied against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky as an example of the evils brought forth by “big-time athletics,” while another suggested that the university raise revenue by building an on-campus golf course.

The meeting also featured Vice Chancellor Fred Wood’s announcement that the Dan Wilson, Chair of the Academic Federation, would be added to the Recruitment Advisory Committee — the body charged with providing suggestions to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi before she makes chooses and athletic director. Wilson brings the committee membership to 16.

The committee will now begin meeting to discuss potential candidates, with a final decision expected to be made in late-winter or early-spring.

TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.

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