Guest opinion: Julie Peri

Editor’s note: The following letter is in response to The Aggie’s Mar. 11 investigation titled “Budget cuts could mean loss of up to nine sports.” Peri is a junior civil engineering major.

The legacy of the UC Davis Athletics Department is that of a broad-based sports program. It was never intended to fit the Big 12 Conference model or that of the other major conferences. Instead, more teams were fielded to give student-athletes a wider variety of opportunities across the board.

In 1993, students voted on the Student Activities and Services Initiative, in which they agreed to pay more money in support of a 23-sport program as opposed to one with 17 sports. Then in 2003, when the university was contemplating moving from Division II to Division I, it made promises to student-athletes with the Campus Expansion Initiative. Note that the CEI promised – for the second time – a broad-based sport program.

UC Davis is not keeping those promises, with Athletics Director Greg Warzecka instead stating that up to nine sports could be cut.

Warzecka said that resources will be invested specifically into football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball because “the university can be very successful with those teams,” according to the March 11 article.

Women’s basketball isn’t the only team that’s won a Division I conference championship. What about the other UC Davis teams that have? Men’s golf won one. Men’s and women’s swimming and diving have all won championships as well. You don’t see Warzecka planning to invest in these successful teams. One argument against these teams is that they are not revenue-producing sports. But in the CEI, UC Davis promised not to base its financial survival on the money brought in by these teams.

And what about scholarship loss and student-athletes potentially having to transfer to other schools? Cutting a team in April does not give athletes time to look for other schools to transfer to. For some sports, there’s just not that many options. UC Davis provides an opportunity for many athletes that other schools cannot with its broad-based program.

When your team is cut, what happens to that money you were receiving with your scholarship? Many student-athletes cannot afford to go to UC Davis without their scholarships. I know of a student-athlete whose scholarship allowed him to go to UC Davis and become the first person in his family to attend a university. If his team gets cut and he loses his scholarship, he will be unable to finish college.

We just want to know if there’s anything we can do to avoid being cut. We’re ready to be proactive. We’re ready to fundraise. We’ll do anything to prevent our opportunity to compete at the collegiate level from being taken away.

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