Gas station without pumps

2016 May 26

Not so proud of UCSC undergrads this year

Last year I wrote a post, I’m proud of UCSC undergrads, in which I praised UCSC undergrads for rejecting a fee to subsidize the approximately 250 Division III athletes on campus:

  • Measure 62. Athletics Operations Enhancement Fee: Shall the undergraduates of UCSC provide funding for the operations for Intercollegiate Athletics by implementing a compulsory fee of $117 per student, per quarter, starting in the fall of 2015? FAILED: 60.33% No, 39.67% Yes.

This year, I’m not so proud of the students. After enduring an unrelenting propaganda barrage by the athletics staff, the students voted on an opinion poll that just allows them to vote on a fee measure next year:

Would you support a new student fee of approximately $90 per quarter ($270 per year) to retain the current NCAA Athletics program at UC Santa Cruz?
Votes Percent
Yes 3976 63.53%
No 2282 36.47%
Total Turnout 6258 40.89%


On other parts of the ballot, the students voted overwhelmingly to support fees for maintaining the Office of Physical Education, Recreation, and Sports (OPERS) facilities (about 80% in favor of each of two measures), which I approve of—these are facilities open to all students and which encourage students to participate in physical activity, both individual exercise and social team sports.

I’m not so happy with their theoretical support for subsidizing elite athletes—I have no patience for spectators—sports should be something students do, not pay to watch other people do. In the past UCSC students understood this distinction, with the result that intramurals were far more important to students than interscholastic sports.  When I came to UCSC, 30 years ago, there were no NCAA Division III teams—all sports were intramurals or club sports, and students recognized that participation in sports was something one did for pleasure (and paid for, if needed), not something that was a “service” or for the benefit of others.

It makes sense for students to pool their money to pay for services and facilities that many will use, but not to pay for coaches, trainers, and separate locker rooms for the varsity teams (who make up less than 2% of the student body).

I have been bothered by the Admistration’s $1 million a year subsidy for NCAA athletics for the past couple of years (and for next year). That money could have paid lecturers for about 100 more courses, benefiting several thousand students who can’t get into the courses they need.

I was very bothered by the Academic Senate’s response to this boondoggle, actually encouraging the Administration to continue pouring money into something that really has no reason for existing at UCSC, when basic needs like adequate classroom space and sufficient faculty and TAs to reduce classroom sizes are not being funded.

Oh, well, maybe the students will come to their senses when the athletes actually ask for money next year, as they have done in prior years.

(All that said, the UCSC student elections look much more reasonable than the dysfunctional student government at UCSB, which seems to consist almost entirely of political infighting, if the UCSB student newspapers are to be believed.)



  1. Too bad there isn’t a snark font (Comic Sans?) available to show that you were joking when you wrote “their theoretical support for subsidizing elite athletes” in your otherwise interesting observations. I wonder how they would do against the basketball team at my CC, which usually sends at least one player to Div I every year, and they are far from elite.

    Comment by CCPhysicist — 2016 May 28 @ 17:39 | Reply

    • I have no idea how good the Div III athletes are at UCSC, and probably few others do either (the games are not well attended, I understand). I suspect that the club sports have athletes who are just as good, but they are paying for their play time, rather than expecting the rest of the students to subsidize coaches, trainers, and travel allowances.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2016 May 28 @ 18:14 | Reply

  2. My remark was mainly directed at the “elite” characterization. The days when a Dennis Rodman or Scottie Pippen would attend an NAIA school (which, unlike Div III, do offer scholarships) appear long gone and the odds are even longer for Div III. I suspect the scouting is better and many schools find a way to get around academic shortcomings without getting caught like North Carolina did — and your university is not a place for kids with academic shortcomings!

    Comment by CCPhysicist — 2016 June 3 @ 07:19 | Reply

    • We do have lots of kids coming here with academic shortcomings (mainly in writing, but also in math). The tiny number of Div III athletes don’t seem to increase that—they apparently graduate as fast or faster than the average students (though I don’t know if that has been corrected for what majors they are in, as some majors take longer than others).

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2016 June 3 @ 10:24 | Reply

  3. […] posted on this topic before: I’m proud of UCSC undergrads, Sports at Any Cost, and Not so proud of UCSC undergrads this year.  I am hopeful that students will realize that subsidizing a couple hundred of their fellow […]

    Pingback by US News covers UCSC referendum on athletics | Gas station without pumps — 2016 September 24 @ 20:38 | Reply

  4. […] a fee to subsidize the approximately 250 Division III athletes on campus, and last Spring I wrote Not so proud of UCSC undergrads this year, when they voted 63% in favor of being asked if they would support a new fee of $270 a year to […]

    Pingback by UCSC athletics “town hall” | Gas station without pumps — 2016 October 23 @ 20:28 | Reply

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