Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Trouble in Aggieland....

Good Morning Spot fans...

In our ever ever growing quest to cover all things "sporty" here in the Central Valley, we turn our attention up to Davis, California...home of tunnels for frogs, Ken O'Brien...and the UC Davis Aggies.

It seems as if the economic downtown our country has been sledding through has finally reached the environs of Davis, in the form of cuts to its athletic programs.  In a letter made public last week, Athletic Director Greg Warzecka announced the need to cut 2.4 million, or roughly 12%, from the athletic budget.  How did he plan on doing this?  By reviewing 13 sports currently supported by the UC Davis Athletic Department to see which ones would be eliminated to make up the 12% that needs to be cut from budget.

Would the cuts simply be passed through in the middle of the night without narry a word?  Well, not exactly.  In the tradition of pretty much any school that has a UC in front of its name....those that would be affected, in this case, the Student-Athletes that call UC Davis home, got riled up, had a protest, and started to fight.  According to Matt Herman, member of the UC Davis Swim Team and one of the leaders of the Student-Athletes protesting against the cuts (Degrees of seperation fact: Matt Herman's brother was on the swim team at Boston College...the Spot almost went to Boston College...how's that for a stretch!), along with said protest last Friday, there have also been collected 2,000 student signatures to save all the sports that UC Davis offers, along with a resolution passed by the UC Davis Academic Senate to save all sports on the chopping block also.

According to Matt, who was kind enough to give the Spot an interview on the subject, while not made public, the sports rumored to be most likely to go if Athletic Director Warzecka has his way are Men's swimming and diving, water polo and wrestling (NO, not this kind of wrestling...the real stuff) along with Women's Crew.  The main problem that the student's have with the review of cuts says Matt, is not that cuts have to be made, they realize that in these times, cuts need to be made somewhere, especially since they take pride in being students first, athletes second, and do not want to diminish in any way their educational experience at UC Davis.  Their main issue they have with A.D. Warzecka is how the cuts are being made in the first place.  There has been no official criteria given as to how cuts will be decided, and, those very same student-athletes that will be affected by said cuts, are not being included in the discussion and decisions of who and what gets the budget ax.

Matt was also kind enough to shed light on a few things.  In regards to funding for the programs that are rumored to be on the block, Water Polo's operating costs have already been budgeted out for the next three years, swimming for the next two years, and the other sports in question for the 2010-11 academic year.  He also stated that in an effort to save money, and the sport on campus, coaches for men's swimming and diving have offered to coach for free.  Instead of just cutting a sport altogether, Matt and his fellow student-athletes suggest looking at ways to trim unnecessary costs in programs across the athletic department, pointing out that the Football team has 15 coaches for a 100 man roster, or, roughly one coach for every 6.6 players.  The interesting comparison was also made that back in 1993, when UC Davis had to make similar cuts from its Athletics budget, no sports were dropped, as compared to what A.D. Warzecka is currently proposing.

Matt and his fellow students were also dismayed that they are not being allowed to even try to raise the necessary funds to operate the threatened sports on their own.  The student-athletes at Davis were given a two week notice by the Athletic Department Administration that the endowment to cover all the threatened sports had a deadline of April 2nd...not nearly enough time to raise the dollars to keep said sports off the chopping block.

Last, but definitely not least, Matt and his student-athletes also take offense to the fact that cutting sports would go directly against the Campus Expansion Initiative (CEI) passed by the entire UC Davis student body in 2002.  The said initiative, which was for all intents and purposes a tax on the students of Davis, stated that the money raised would go towards allowing UC Davis to make the jump from NCAA Division II status, to where it currently is, an NCAA Division I school and member of the Big West Conference.  It was sold to the student body with one of its main arguments being that with new revenue coming in, UC Davis will not seek to cut sports and athletic opportunities for its student body, something that A.D. Warzecka is attempting to contradict with his proposal to cut programs.  As recently as just last year, student fees that were authorized by the CEI in 2002 were increased on the students of UC Davis.

So whats the Spot's take on this?  The Spot says "fight on!" Matt.  As with any organization during a recession or economic down turn, cuts need to be made and belts have to get tightened a bit, there is no arguing that point.  However, it appears in this case that not all the options have been looked at.  15 football coaches, really? Does a Division I-AA school really need 1 coach for every 6 players?  And why not look at non-scholarship options, both for those sports threatened with elimination and other sports as well.  Schools such as Univ. of San Diego, Dayton Univ. etc. play football on the same level as UC Davis but on a non-scholarship basis.  And one just has to look at the Big Red of Cornell, who's entire athletic department is non-scholarship, and their run to this year's sweet 16 in the men's NCAA hoops tourney to see that it can work in other sports as well.  And if you're gonna cut programs, at least give the kids a fighting chance...and time, to go out and see if they can save the programs on their own...its only fair, right?

That's all for now...and as usual....stay classy Central Valley....

1 comment:

  1. Some good suggestions at the end. I hope the kids don't get steamrolled by their administration.