An otherwise routine ASUCD Senate meeting on Thursday saw tensions rise as an appearance of school officials raised more questions about the objectives of both the administration and the athletics program.
Dr. Milton Lang, associate vice chancellor of Student Affairs, attended the meeting, followed by four members of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC): Elsie Fullerton, Brandon Greenberg, Sophia Lisaius and Danielle Steffen. SAAC, according to Lisaius, “[provides] a liaison from the athletics faculty members to the student athletes.”
The senate had planned to hold a fairly rare closed session, giving the public just the meeting’s description: “Athletics.”
“We heard there was something going on with athletics and we figured we needed to step up our involvement with ASUCD,” said Greenberg, a senior on the men’s track and field team.
Fullerton, a junior on the women’s water polo team, added that she also would like to see more collaboration with the student government and student-athletes.
“We wanted to be available as a resource and open up a line of communication,” Fullerton said.
Lang addressed his appearance at the meeting, alluding to what ASUCD may do in light of the discovery that the Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA) department failed to adhere to the principles of the athletic department, to which every UC Davis student pays around $500 per year.
“I come four or five times a year [to senate],” Lang said. “It’s up to them to make the decision, collectively, on what they want to do. That’s not my opinion, that is not my decision.”
Paul Medved, a UC Davis alumnus and parent of a former student-athlete, launched an investigation into ICA in 2010 when the administration cut four sports – men’s swimming and diving, men’s wrestling, men’s indoor track and field and women’s rowing – breaking one of the eight Core Principles of ICA at UC Davis. The principle states that “UC Davis cannot reduce its broad-based program but rather must seek to add sports.”
“Certainly, when the four teams were eliminated, I found that very offensive,” said Medved, whose daughter was a member of the women’s swim team. “After four years of research, I can conclude that it is inconsistent with the intent of the students’ funding.”
Medved spoke at senate on Oct. 9 to fill in the senators regarding his findings. As a result, senate looked to hold a closed session on Oct. 16 to sort out the information and to figure out a way to move forward with it. However, the session was not properly called to order, causing Lang and the SAAC members to leave. Senate later voted to have a 30-minute closed session meeting in regards to ICA.
“[We need a closed session] just to say anything we feel,” said senator Janesh Gupta, during the public senate discussion before the closed session took place.
The SAAC had no previous knowledge of any rumbling within the athletic department, but the members expressed their concern over any internal corruption.
“Honestly, Wednesday was the first time I had heard about all of this,” said Steffen, a sophomore pole vaulter on the track and field team. “I knew sports had been cut in the past, but I didn’t realize this issue was being revisited. I came today to get some questions answered, go in with an open mind … see what was going on and how we could help if they had any questions for us.”