Move to Division I


  1. Results
  2. Press
  3. Discussion
    1. Financial impact of D-I
    2. Sports' effect on UCD's reputation
    3. Academics before athletics
    4. Legislative shadiness

UC Davis Athletics is currently in transition from NCAA Division II to NCAA Division I, following the approval of the 2003 Campus Expansion Initiative. Much of the foundation for this bill came from the FACE Initiative of 1999. Approval by the student body, and finally by university administration, meant that UCD athletics entered a four-year transition period, beginning in 2003-2004, and will emerge in 2007-2008 fully qualified to compete against the rest of the country's top athletics programs. Until then, most UCD teams will not be eligible for playoffs, though they can already compete against other D-I schools during normal season play.

Advocates of the move to Division I argued that it will benefit all UCD graduates in the long run. While not all students and faculty are interested in UCD athletics, the title of being a D-I school suggests excellence in academia. The UC Davis Athletics Department has stated that they will maintain a commitment to academics above athletics and will not allow UCD to become a "sports school." But with great sports teams and a student population of well over 20,000, it did not make sense for UCD to continue to compete against small liberal-arts colleges while sister schools UCLA and UC Berkeley went head-to-head on a higher level of play. A serious school needs to play some serious football.

The price of glory, however, is considerable. To help fund the move and athletic scholarships, money is primarily acquired through student fees in addition to private contributions from outside the University. About $54 a year is paid by every UCD undergraduate for the D-I move (can someone verify this?). The student fees from FACE alone cost current undergraduates more than a hundred dollars a quarter. These funds are also used to construct several new athletic venues on campus. The Schaal Aquatics Center ($7 million), which will be the new home for water polo and swimming, was constructed because Hickey Pool is not adequate for Division I use. The soon-to-be-built Multi Use Stadium ($20 million) will be the new home for UCD football and lacrosse; the former home, Toomey Field, will remain the home for track. The Activities and Recreation Center is already suitable for Division I use, and will undergo minor upgrades.

Two years after the deciding bill, the move to Division I remains a controversial topic. The Campus Expansion Initiative was supported by the Student Focus slate, athletics department and university administration, but also drew its share of critics, and consequently the election had one of the largest voter turnouts in recent times. In addition, the FACE Initiative was a battleground of its own in 1999, and the Academic Senate opposed it by a vote of 827 to 556 (was this for Campus Expansion or FACE?). Regardless, UCD Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef among others forged ahead with his plan to make UC Davis more competitive


The 2004-2005 season — the first season in which all UC Davis sports teams competed with all-Division I schedules — has shown that UC Davis can more than hold its own against Division I competition. For example, football posted a 6-4 record, its 35th consecutive winning season, and reached as high as #21 in the I-AA National Rankings; men's basketball went 11-17, women's basketball went 9-18, and women's soccer went 8-9-1. Keep in mind that the student-athletes on these teams are the same non-scholarship, Division II athletes from before the move to Division I. As time goes by, UC Davis athletics will improve with the recruitment of Division I scholarship student-athletes.

A quick look around the NCAA website shows that Davis' average football attendance has actually fluctuated in the 6000-9000 range per game in recent football seasons (99-03).RussBowlus



Financial impact of D-I

The raise in student fees to support the D-I move doesn't fully kick in until most of the students who voted on the initiative have already graduated. It's a serious amount of money. Was that necessary, or even ethical? Should future fee-based initiatives be structured differently? Discuss.

Sports' effect on UCD's reputation

Other than noting the fact that this page is biased, I'd like to note that the size of a school's sports program can play a large role in how well known a school is, which will then play a role in how many people attempt to learn about the school, which will then affect how valuable a diploma from that school is. It may be a lame process, but I'd wager that football and basketball did a lot to put UCLA on the map. I visited my friend who goes to college in Texas, and they'd never heard of UC Davis before. They'd heard of Gonzaga though. Freaking Gonzaga. There are very obvious benefits to the D-I move, which this page shouldn't ignore, even though it's still important to note all the spending. Also, the ARC rocks.GiladGurantz

Academics before athletics

Opponents of the move to D-I argue that the school may lose sight of its academic excellence and instead focus on its athletic goals. That is, if we value our academic reputation over our sports, then why spending so much of our money on a new multi-use stadium and other expensive athletic venues?

Legislative shadiness

The only reason I wanted to come to Davis because I knew it had a good sports program, albeit Division 2 at the time. I only applied to schools with good sports programs, which is the reason I didn't apply to Harvard. In all seriousness though, the students are getting screwed. The move to D-1 was illegal because of the filing deadline to put the Campus Expansion Initiative on the ballot. The administration ignored the deadline but got their way because they are the administration. They bundled the D-1 expansion with the Coffee House expansion and the expansion of the Cowell Student Health Center. The Health Center funding could have been easily payed for with grants but they needed another thing to bundle with D-1. If you liked one expansion but not the other - tough - it was all or nothing with the expansion imitative. The students were also uneducated on the topic. They didn't have enough time to learn about it but even with all the other cool expansions the vote was only 51% in D-1's favor. The students saw the price tag and many of them said, "Hell no." It may be presumptuous of me but seeing as the political slate in change of the ASUCD at the time was Student Focus and since the have a history of shady activity when it comes to elections I wouldn't be surprised if the administration convinced their friends in yellow shirts to go door to door on frat row or in the dorms in order to ask if they can use someone's computer and log-in information to vote in the election. But really, it is not that I am against UC Davis being D-1. I am against the students paying for it. If we can't get the sports program and advertisers to do it now then how do we know they will do it later. It shows that maybe being D-1 isn't that marketable. UCD invented the Square Tomato! Who cares if we win a football game or not? I don't. The only sports game I have ever attended is Intramural Sports. Next time I see Larry Vanderhoef I'm going to ask him if I can use that $20 million stadium he is building for a miniature golf course on the 357 days out of the year that there will not be a football game going on. -RobRoy

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