What is Measure 68?
For the past four years, the Chancellor’s Office has temporarily provided $1 million in funding for NCAA athletics with the intention of ending institutional support by fall 2018.
Measure 68 is a student fee referendum intended to support NCAA athletics at UC Santa Cruz.
If passed, the referendum will enact a fee of $38.50 per quarter per student, which is about $115 a year. The Chancellor’s Office will also commit an annual $500,000 to fund intercollegiate athletics if it passes.
If the student fee referendum fails, NCAA sports will be cut and phased out by the end of next school year.
What is equal access for all?
Measure 68 has been promoted as “Access for All” in athletics. If passed, the fee will give $160,000 to Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP), a program intended to increase retention for students from traditionally underprivileged communities. As of spring 2016, 38 percent of the student body qualifies for EOP.
“We can accelerate teambuilding through these athletics-based activities so that when first-generation, low-income students come to UCSC they already feel like they have a group to connect to, develop trust and get out of their comfort zone,” said EOP director Pablo Reguerin.
The money would cover participatory costs for EOP students in club sports and other recreational activities. It would also contribute funding to outdoor retention programs offered by EOP, including the Men of Color Program, where students are taken camping in the hopes of exposing them to the outdoors and helping them find a community in college early on.
Even if the referendum were to pass, students would not be able to use the EOP fund to compete in NCAA athletics, as Division III athletic programs like UCSC cannot provide any scholarships.
Some students have criticized the “Access for All” campaign, citing that only 8 percent of the overall $2 million generated revenue will actually go to the EOP campaign. Some also questioned why the two issues would be coupled in one referendum.
“If the purpose is about increasing diversity I could see it being run as a measure by itself, but by pairing it with this measure it is obvious that it is just to try to get Measure 68 to pass,” said fourth-year student and Student Union Governance Board Co-chair (SUGB) Jhordy Gongora.
Supporters of the referendum argue that because many of the participatory costs of programs lie within a range of $20-$100, the $160,000 budget would sufficiently serve EOP students. For Austin Duncan, a third-year track and field athlete who is also an EOP student, the referendum offers access to sport programs and recreational activities he would otherwise not be able to afford
“There is no fund at all set aside, there is no money that exists currently for the students to have opportunities like this. The amount of people that the fund can help is upward of 1,500 students,” Duncan said.
What happens if Measure 68 does not pass?
If the referendum doesn’t pass, the 14 NCAA sports teams will be cut entirely following next year. The 28 positions associated with NCAA athletics including 21 coaches, four athletic trainers and three administrative staff members will be cut. There will still be club and intramural sports.
Both alumni and student athletes worry the loss of sports at UCSC would make the university appear like a financially struggling institution and limit its ability to attract both students and donors.
“People will look at [UCSC] and say if they don’t have sports, maybe they won’t have something I want because the university isn’t operating properly,” said alumnus Paul Simpson, who has helped the Office of Physical Education, Recreation and Sports (OPERS) develop a business model and co-wrote the referendum. “If this is a sign that the university is struggling, are there other things that are going to disappear?”
OPERS is already facing a combined $800,000 negative carry forward, and if NCAA athletics are cut, its finances will worsen. It could absorb an additional projected $510,000 in debt from NCAA athletics if the referendum doesn’t pass, according to OPERS Executive Director Andrea Willer. The department must also find funds for necessary projects like the planned $2 million pool renovation.
If NCAA sports are cut, UCSC will be the only UC campus to not have intercollegiate athletics. For the 300 students athletes who will be affected by the loss of funding, their focus is on saving their teams.
“Everyone deserves to follow their passion and be involved with something that they love,” said third-year athlete Austin Duncan. “The idea that ‘[the referendum] doesn’t affect me so I shouldn’t do it’ […] is slightly unfair because you’re depriving people of something they love doing.”