Athletics Working Group
There is not a single university experience in America. Each student’s experience is their own and those experiences vary widely from student to student based on the type of institution where a student enrolls – small liberal arts college, large public university, research university, community college – their major field of study, geographic location, extracurricular activities, and a host of other variables. For many, intercollegiate athletics is an expected and important part of that experience. But, from its very beginnings in the 19th Century, there has been controversy about the role and purpose of intercollegiate athletics, with questions about financial costs, professionalism, and competitive equity dominating the conversation to this very day.
UC Riverside’s athletics tradition goes back to our very founding and over the years our teams have produced national champions and All-Americans. In recent years, the program has worked to strengthen its connections with the campus and with the community; and has refocused on the student experience. At the same time, it has struggled financially, relying significantly on institutional funding to stay afloat. The current budget challenge facing the campus has prompted calls for a significant reduction or the elimination of intercollegiate athletics on the campus. This call is motivated in part by the recognition that dollars spent on athletics could instead be spent on academic priorities which are under significant stress at this time. Importantly, given existing employee contracts and student scholarship commitments a decision to close athletics would result in few immediate savings, but would, of course, affect the campus budget in future years.
Any decision on the future of athletics at UCR should be made thoughtfully and must be informed by a broad conversation on the campus. To affect that conversation, I am appointing an Intercollegiate Athletics Working Group to advise on the long-term sustainability of the program. I expect that the resultant advice will be framed within the broad context of the role of intercollegiate athletics on the campus, in the community, and with our student athletes. I am asking that the Working Group specifically consider other possible models for intercollegiate competition that might better fit UCR in the 21st Century. I expect the group will reach out to key constituencies as part of their deliberations, so that any decision on the future of intercollegiate athletics at UCR is a collective decision. I am asking that the Working Group report back to the campus by February 1, 2021.
October 2020: Working Group Established
November 2020: Working Group Begins Meeting
February 2021: Working Group Reports to Campus
Working Group Membership
Brian Haynes, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs (chair)
Chris Lynch, Dean, Bourns College of Engineering
Frances Sladek, Divisional Dean for Life Sciences (CNAS) and Professor of Cell Biology
Julie Salgado, Former Staff Assembly President and Event Services Coordinator (CHASS)
Raena Robinson, Student Athlete (Women’s Softball)
Susan Atherton ‘77, Immediate Past Chair, Board of Trustees
Tamica Smith Jones, Director, Intercollegiate Athletics
Walter Clark, Faculty Athletic Representative and Distinguished Professor of Music
Luis Huerta, ASUCR President
Katherine Kinney, Associate Professor of English and Chair of Academic Senate Planning and Budget
Nichi Yes, Graduate Student Association President
Robert Field, Immediate Past Chair, UCR Athletics Association Board of Directors and San Bernardino City Manager
Christina Wong, Executive Assistant to the Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs
Christine Victorino, Associate Chancellor
Susana Salazar, Assistant Director, Financial Planning & Analysis