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Davis, California

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Guest: Unconditionally restore women’s rowing and men’s swimming

Chancellor Katehi eliminated four collegiate sports in 2010 that need to be restored

By now, we’ve all heard about the recent college admissions scandal. Shocking, right? That the rich and famous could use their wealth and privilege to slip their academically underqualified kids into top schools through a side door? Outrageous! Damnit, that door was built by those schools so they could slip “blue chip” football and basketball players in! These are imposters! Fakes! Frauds! And somebody besides the schools themselves made money off of it? Off with their heads!

Think about it, people. How can we be offended by one of those scenarios and just fine with the other? What’s the difference?

Now consider this: Your UC Davis predecessors sought to ensure that that sort of side door would never exist at UC Davis. One of the ways they did that was through the Campus Expansion Initiative, which was passed by students and approved by the Regents in 2002. It was precisely the passage of the CEI that enabled the university to move its intercollegiate athletic program (ICA) from NCAA Division II to Division I. In order to collect students’ fees, the university promised to its students that it would observe seven explicit principles. One of those principles stated that, “Admissions and graduation standards must in no way be specially altered or amended for athletes.” That’s the one that was supposed to keep the side door from ever being built at UC Davis.

Pretty smart, eh? And, with a notable exception or two (dozen) during the highly regrettable Katehi years, the university has been pretty good about abiding by that principle and staying out of trouble. But before anyone feels too good, remember there were six other principles.

One of those principles claimed that, “UC Davis cannot reduce its broad-based program but must seek to add sports.” That one was intended to protect sports from being sacrificed for the enhancement of football and basketball — a classic failure mechanism of D1 sports. That’s the one that was utterly and blatantly — even fraudulently — abused when Chancellor Katehi eliminated four intercollegiate sports in 2010. On the basis of state budget cuts, she declared a “crisis” (any of this sounding familiar?) and started tossing assets like women’s rowing and men’s swimming — two highly successful Aggie sports — overboard.  

Katehi got away with it because she didn’t bother to tell anyone at the time there was no state funding in the ICA program to begin with. Moreover, the university’s own annual reports to the NCAA later revealed that the ICA budget was never actually reduced like she said it had to be. Instead, sure enough, the money that would have gone to support those four sports was instead redistributed to the remaining sports — with the lion’s share going to just two. Care to guess which two?

So, fellow Aggies, while those other schools rummage through the rubble of their own integrity, what say we take this opportunity to do a little housekeeping ourselves? How about if you, the Aggie Editorial Board and ASUCD leadership let Chancellor May know that his administration needs to renew the university’s commitment to all seven of those CEI principles and, while they’re at it, make amends for the errors of the past by unconditionally restoring women’s rowing and men’s swimming.

What say you?

Written by: Paul Medved

The writer graduated from UC Davis in 1978 with a B.S. in civil engineering. He has worked in transportation engineering in the Bay Area and Asia for nearly 40 years, now serving as the project manager of the BART Warm Springs Extension project.


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