What can the administration of UCSC possibly be thinking with the decision to eliminate athletics? Equally horrifying is putting the cost burden on the backs of students.  They’re not thinking, and that’s the problem.  This is an administration that’s lost its way…

Athletic Director Mark Dorfman wrote an excellent piece published in the Sentinel on 4/24/16 alluding to the miniscule budget impact of athletics compared to the full campus budget.  He also identified the statistics of what type of academic student athletes become.  All Marks’ points are what every campus strives for and is the piéce de résistance of academic success … but not for this administration.

There’s another perspective that goes hand in hand with this same piéce de résistance of academic success — what type of person they become.

Athletics is the foundation for character education and teaches students the core values of honesty, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy, judgement and time management.  What other department on campus truly embraces these core values and instills these lifelong attributes!  Unlike the majority of campuses, UCSC student athletes actually have to pay ($$$) to participate.  There are no scholarships so it costs these athletes’ more money on top of tuition, housing, etc., etc. to participate.  Talk about building character!  Aren’t these the values that a campus should strive for in their educational portfolio!

The campus has identified that only 2% (280) of enrolled students participate in athletics and as such is not sufficient to continue to fund.  Is that a low percentage due to the depth of the programs which have been horribly underfunded and lost valuable coaches and mentors over the last few years?

Athletics is the essence of diversity and at one time (might still be) UCSC was the only Title IX compliant program in the country.  You can make a direct correlation between athletics and the many sports camps that come to UCSC over the summer- generating millions of dollars of income over the years. How about the many students that attend events that are above and beyond the 280- don’t they count?

I don’t know, maybe athletics just isn’t “techie” or “solar powered” enough for this administration.  So let’s follow this rationalization of only 2% of students participate and thus is not worth funding.  How many other campus’ departments- academic or otherwise have “only” 2% of student involvement and are still funded?  Let’s also see through the “smoke and mirrors” that the campus likes to put out there about different funding pots.  While there is some truth to this it’s not the camouflage the campus would like you to believe.  Here’s my disclaimer now- I’m not devaluing any other entity I mention but merely using the logic already applied.

How many students participate in each of the SOAR organizations — yes, many of them are student run and many of them have staff/faculty that are involved? Not all the SOAR entities combined but individual groups.  How many students are involved in the umpteen research projects going on?  How many students participate in each of the various CHES activities that are put on?  How many students use the various walking and bike trails all through the Northern edge of campus?  How many students utilize the various College Cafes (another topic of financial losses)?

What values are all of these entities educating and teaching the students?  Do they compare with what athletics provides and the resulting student that goes into the world and is our future?  There are departments that teach students how to conceal your face so as not to be identified or professors who encourage smoking pot at 420 and UCSC happily continues to fund this.

How about just the wasteful spending that happens daily on the campus.  How much money is spent on scrubbing of the internet?  How much on just scouring the internet for campus related comments?  How much money is lost every time a construction project is delayed due to inability to make a decision?  This can go on, and on, and on but not really the point.

The reality is this administration could find the money to continue athletics (without burdening all students) and check all the boxes of what the core mission is- educating students, academically and more importantly, what type of person do we send into the world.  Stop the disingenuous rhetoric and do the right thing!

Scott B. Berlin

Former UCSC Director for Dining and Hospitality Services