The Faculty Senate Special Committee on Athletics (FSSCA) held a town hall meeting to share its research on the importance of athletics at UC Santa Cruz and to hear student opinion. The town hall meeting’s goal was to gauge student body opinion on the future of athletics and to discuss possible funding models. About 100 students, mostly NCAA athletes, filled the Cervantes and Velasquez Conference Room on Oct. 19.
The faculty senate created this committee last February to report on the impacts of keeping or losing NCAA athletics at UCSC. Their interim report, released in April, strongly favored keeping athletics. As of now, a $90 per quarter student fee is the proposed funding model needed to help support the annual $2 million UCSC NCAA costs.
“I was very pleased to hear what I expected, which was a diverse range of opinions on the impact of athletics, the ways to fund it, the ways not to fund it,” said committee chairperson and astronomy professor Xavier Prochaska. “It was also nice to have some of the coaches and community membership in the room.”
Although there were a few non-NCAA voices in the room, the majority of the questions came from NCAA athletes and coaches, and the discussion centered around passing a referendum to keep sports at UCSC.
Attendees posed questions ranging from asking executives about the flexibility of their salary to the termination of the athletic director position to the impact of the potential elimination of athletics.
“The student athletes are passionate about keeping [athletics],” said Hector Navarro, Student Union Assembly (SUA) vice president of diversity and inclusion and special committee member. “There are some reservations from the regular student population about increasing the student fees, which is understandable because we already pay a ridiculous amount for tuition and other student fees.”
The meeting informed attendees on where funding for student related services comes from. Many of the student athletes were very curious as to where money comes from and how it is distributed.
“The state is not allowed to fund programs that aren’t explicitly related to academic services like they can’t even fund housing,” said Student Fee Advisory Committee chairperson Alice Malmberg at the meeting. “The funds need to come from the university, so when it comes to student fees they really fund everything else.”
The future of athletics will depend on the final report from the special committee — which will influence the administration’s opinion — and the final vote on the referendum in spring 2017.
“If the [FSSCA] recommends that athletics should be retained, I think it’ll definitely be possible to pass a referendum with the amount of support there is,” Navarro said.