UC Davis Athletics is currently in transition from NCAA Division II to NCAA Division I, following the approval of the 2003 Campus Expansion Initiative. Much of the foundation for this bill came from the FACE Initiative of 1999. Approval by the student body, and finally by university administration, meant that UCD athletics entered a four-year transition period, beginning in 2003-2004, and will emerge in 2007-2008 fully qualified to compete against the rest of the country's top athletics programs. Until then, most UCD teams will not be eligible for playoffs, though they can already compete against other D-I schools during normal season play.

Advocates of the move to Division I argued that it will benefit all UCD graduates in the long run. While not all students and faculty are interested in UCD athletics, the title of being a D-I school suggests excellence in academia. The UC Davis Athletics Department has stated that they will maintain a commitment to academics above athletics and will not allow UCD to become a "sports school." But with great sports teams and a student population of well over 20,000, it did not make sense for UCD to continue to compete against small liberal-arts colleges while sister schools UCLA and UC Berkeley went head-to-head on a higher level of play. A serious school needs to play some serious football.

The price of glory, however, is considerable. To help fund the move and athletic scholarships, money is primarily acquired through student fees in addition to private contributions from outside the University. About $54 a year is paid by every UCD undergraduate for the D-I move (can someone verify this?). The student fees from FACE alone cost current undergraduates more than a hundred dollars a quarter. These funds are also used to construct several new athletic venues on campus. The Schaal Aquatics Center ($7 million), which will be the new home for water polo and swimming, was constructed because Hickey Pool is not adequate for Division I use. The soon-to-be-built Multi Use Stadium ($20 million) will be the new home for UCD football and lacrosse; the former home, Toomey Field, will remain the home for track. The Activities and Recreation Center is already suitable for Division I use, and will undergo minor upgrades.

Two years after the deciding bill, the move to Division I remains a controversial topic. The Campus Expansion Initiative was supported by the Student Focus slate, athletics department and university administration, but also drew its share of critics, and consequently the election had one of the largest voter turnouts in recent times. In addition, the FACE Initiative was a battleground of its own in 1999, and the Academic Senate opposed it by a vote of 827 to 556 (was this for Campus Expansion or FACE?). Regardless, UCD Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef among others forged ahead with his plan to make UC Davis more competitive


The 2004-2005 season — the first season in which all UC Davis sports teams competed with all-Division I schedules — has shown that UC Davis can more than hold its own against Division I competition. For example, football posted a 6-4 record, its 35th consecutive winning season, and reached as high as #21 in the I-AA National Rankings; men's basketball went 11-17, women's basketball went 9-18, and women's soccer went 8-9-1. Keep in mind that the student-athletes on these teams are the same non-scholarship, Division II athletes from before the move to Division I. As time goes by, UC Davis athletics will improve with the recruitment of Division I scholarship student-athletes.

A quick look around the NCAA website shows that Davis' average football attendance has actually fluctuated in the 6000-9000 range per game in recent football seasons (99-03).RussBowlus



Financial impact of D-I

The raise in student fees to support the D-I move doesn't fully kick in until most of the students who voted on the initiative have already graduated. It's a serious amount of money. Was that necessary, or even ethical? Should future fee-based initiatives be structured differently? Discuss.

  • Collegiate sports should be paid for using the sponsorship that has defined the institution, which other major universities use to fund their programs. Our schoool opted out, intentionally might I add, from using advertising revenue to fund this initiative. We are operating at a comparative disadvantage from other schools, and we placed the resulting financial burden from operating in this fashion upon the students. That is what is irresponsible, and that is what we should change. We can choose to have both, but our choices must be sound and they must bear a resemblence of responsibility to the financial needs of cash-strapped students. —RobertBaron

Sports' effect on UCD's reputation

Other than noting the fact that this page is biased, I'd like to note that the size of a school's sports program can play a large role in how well known a school is, which will then play a role in how many people attempt to learn about the school, which will then affect how valuable a diploma from that school is. It may be a lame process, but I'd wager that football and basketball did a lot to put UCLA on the map. I visited my friend who goes to college in Texas, and they'd never heard of UC Davis before. They'd heard of Gonzaga though. Freaking Gonzaga. There are very obvious benefits to the D-I move, which this page shouldn't ignore, even though it's still important to note all the spending. Also, the ARC rocks.GiladGurantz

  • Look, some people argue sports are not worthwhile or meaningful for an academic institution to put resources behind. They'd rather see the same resources go elsewehere. But when those resources go elsewhere, you just get crap. Look at the death star. Classroom space is nice, but the more money you throw at it, somehow you end up with just as many classrooms. They just put in more computer labs. Look, at least with a higher-profile athletics, you get a higher-profile school. (See USC and Notre Dame. Is this putting the cart before the horse? Maybe. Cool trick, cart in front of horse.) Plus it's a good potential revenue generator. Right now it might be a break-even situation, but look at the USCs and Notre Dames of the world... at ND, Bowl money went directly into graduate student stipends. Division I was the right move for Davis. The sad thing is that the students of today will probably not see the immediate return on their investment. But it's the only contribution they make to the school today that will likely add value to their diploma down the road. -JaimeRaba
  • Just as this page may be biased, so is Gilad's opinion. We must discount his baseless assumptions that the size of a sports program can put a school "on the map". A school lacking true academic notoriety cannot promote its vital academic interest through the expansion of its sports programs. It could be conceded that the promotion that a solid sports program affords our university with more advertisng revenue to diminish the costs of those who attend it. But looking at any school with a sports program that is on the map, there is no correlative nor causal relationship between division one programs and improving campus life. The priming effects of the media only serves to establish importance for marketing, and when marketing of sports does not serve a compelling interest of the school that to what benefit does it serve? We should have an expansion of this campus to improve the intellectual quality and rigor or our programs because that will improve our reputation. Find me a school where the subsidy of non-academic institutions have improved the academic ones and I'll rescind my criticism of your baseless argument. As an academic institution, we need not promote nationalistic tendencies that foster rivalry as it serves no legitimate academic pursuit. Sports itself was virtually re-invented at the turn of the 19th century to prepare a pacifist public to be more prepared for war, and judging those last 100 years, I'd say it has been fairly successfull. We have no further need to activate the guns of war with the government doing so well in that business. As for the ARC, please do your research and note that the F.A.C.E. initiative was passed years prior to the Campus Expansion Initiative, and has no relation to this subject. Respectfully —RobertBaron
    • I agree with Russ and Gilad. First off, Russ is correct about the football attendance figures. Considering the fact that Toomey only seats about 7,500 max, 6,000 average is not a bad figure at all, especially for a Divsion II school. Division I-A San Jose State has a 30,000 seat stadium, but they average less than 2,000 people per game. This wiki article is pretty darn biased when it discounts the ability of our students and alumni to fill this new stadium when it already fills crappy, old Toomey to 80% capacity. Secondly, I don't think Gilad meant to say that the "subsidy of non-academic institutions have improved the academic ones." What he was saying is that a school like Gonzaga could very well be the crappiest school in the world, but the fact that they won a helluva lot of basketball championships makes that note less apparent to many people. For an institution like UC Davis, a successful D-I program would be like icing on the cake—so long as they strive for academic integrity off the court/field/pool as well. Gilad did say that a D-I sports program "affects the value of the diploma," which is indeed frustrating. However, he also said that a D-I sports program affects how much a person is willing to "learn about the school." The sports program will make the school's name better known to potential college applicants. Seriously, most people from the Bay Area would agree that they knew Cal and Stanford for their Big Game before they knew them for their academics. However, like Russ said, a school doesn't have to choose one over the other, as Stanford is a gleaming example of this. Finally, I don't see how college football still "activates the guns of war." That's a totally legimitate reason to dislike college sports, but still, I don't think I'm more interested in war, or dullened to the fact that war is horrible. :-P It's about school spirit. Sports are fun to play and to watch. It's fun to root for your home team. It's fun to play as them in the videogames. We can't always be using big words and striving for "academic pursuit," that's not always fun. I don't even know what I'm saying anymore because I can't make indents or anything so this all looks like a giant blob. Anyway, I tried to make the page more neutral, and left the biasedness for the Conclusion (which isn't well-developed, but somebody from both sides can add on later). — RaynatoCastro
      • Not sure where you got all the info, but SJSU averaged 19000 this season as Dick Tomey turned the team around with an 8-4 record and an appearance in the New Mexico Bowl. MikePreston
        • I respectfully disagree with Robert Baron. Linking present-day war to UCD going D-1 is about the most absurd thing I have ever heard. Personally I supported the move to D-1 and voted for it. I put my school spirit above everything and realized how outdated our sports facilities are compared to the rest of campus. Putting money into sports programs is a great way for UCD to get its name out there and attract some students that otherwise would not have heard about UCD. UCD does indeed have "academic notoriety" and improving our school thru sports, new buildings (ARC, stadium, classrooms, reaseach), etc. is a way to further show that we are a great school. Further more, school is not just about academic learning. Sports and other cultural things (music, dance, etc) have a place in the real world too, as they do in school. Most people tend to hold this view as shown in the various sports, cultural, and social organizations in all aspects of our education system from kindergarden to university. -AshleyOrsaba
          • I know it may be difficult to see the connection Ashley, but a Frenchman by the name of Baron Pierre de Coubertin restarted the olympics after centuries of not having it in order to prepare society for war. What started off as way to advance the military readiness of the youth turned into a competitive business with the advent of radio and eventually television. It is important to understand the historical aspects of the sports systems that we beleive in, especially when their roots may be counter to our interests (unless we desire war and advertisments). My purpose in bringing up the history is to help share some understanding of sports in contemporary society. I do not see your logic in presuming our school would be improved through new buildings, when many students cannot even afford to attend school because of the high cost of added fees ($591 of tuition has been added to pay for the D-1 and F.A.C.E. initiatives alone). A friend of mine had to drop out of school because his financial aid was cut and fees increased, and he isn't alone. The problem our university faces is while there may be some benefit to expanding and improving the campus, the detriment of losing students and the financial burdens incurred through these initiatives furthers our academic interests into the ground. Students come and go, and our focus should be getting them the best education while they are here and in promoting research that the university conducts for the benefit of the state. As the most expensive part of the State budget we need to reconsider our fiscal priorities in light that the government has consistently attacked us for being the biggest beuracratic drain on our states economy. Let's show them we have our priorities straight, and that we know 2 + 1 isn't a three-point-play but simply just the number "3". — RobertBaron
            • So you are saying that new buildings to ease over-crowding in classrooms is against the common good of students? Just becuase someone restarted the Olympics a hundred years ago to supposedly prepare people for war, does not mean that modern-day sports are pre-cursors to war. I play sports, but I dont plan on going to war. Sports (to most) are simply a fun competative way to stay in shape. I have enjoyed the privelage of playing soccer for the last 15 years of my life, but I see no way in which playing a GAME makes me war-like. -AshleyOrsaba
              • No, I agree that providing new buildings to ease overcrowding is a good thing, but again has no relation to adding a new stadium and a recreation center. I also am not in any way implying that modern-day sports are the precursor to war, but are a product of that mindset. Rather, sports are like the horses that advertisers go out to the track to bet on. It is no longer a manifestation of bloodsport, as it has become a competition that is funded and promoted through advertising revenue and marketing. I sympathize with your feelings for sports ; I played basketball and swam on club teams up until the time I came to Davis, but my love for sports does not give me, nor any other student, the right to have other students pay for the facilities to engage in those sports that I enjoy, especially when they cannot afford them. —RobertBaron
  • Sports are a mind-numbing escape from reality. More students show up to a football game than a rally to support lowering textbook prices. More people know the names of coaches than the the names of the world leaders who affect our daily lives. Furthermore, 6,000 people in Toomey will be 6,000 people in the new field.- JimSchwab

Academics before athletics

Opponents of the move to D-I argue that the school may lose sight of its academic excellence and instead focus on its athletic goals. That is, if we value our academic reputation over our sports, then why spending so much of our money on a new multi-use stadium and other expensive athletic venues?

  • I would rather the University I graduate from not be famous for having a good sports program and rather good undergaad and graduate programs. When applying to Law School, the people looking at my app won't say "This guy graduated from a school with a shitty basketball team...NEXT!", but rather "Wow, this guy got a 3.8 GPA from one of the toughest academic institutions in California".-JimSchwab
  • A University doesn't have to choose one or the other: Stanford is known for its world-class academics and happens to have a perennially great athletic program. — RussBowlus
  • You can count on one hand the number of universities with world-class academics and great athletic programs. The rest of them are great at one or the other, or neither. I've personally seen a major research institution allow its academics to suffer as it continued to try and improve it's sports program. The money that could have been spent on better teaching facilities, better housing, or better student recruitment instead went to the vague idea of increasing public awareness of the University. If an institution already has an academic reputation, one of the most dangerous things it can do is try to create a athletic reputation. If your academics slump, students will stop coming. And just to make it clear, being against the shift to D-1 in no way implies that someone is against improved facilities or against sports in general. There's a big difference. -MattCzarnowski
  • Matt how many fingers do you have on your hand? Let's see off the top of my head...Michigan, Cal (UCB), UCLA, USC, Duke, Notre Dame, Stanford, Boston College, Wisconson, Penn State, etc. All the Ivy League schools are also D1. It's not about being the best sports school in the world, it's about catching up with our peers. Most large Top 50 schools in the nation are D1. ChrisPerry
  • Hi Chris! Let me follow up to this long-expired thread. By "great athletic program" I did not simply mean D1. I meant a program that draws the top athletic talent and/or is the reason that students desire to attend the school. I love the way the Ivies run their sports programs, and they are D1, but (in general) they aren't close to having "great athletic programs". I'm no sports expert, but I don't think Berkeley or Stanford would qualify, either. -MattCzarnowski
  • Thanks for the response Matt. Your lucky not many Bear fans read the Daviswiki because they would be all over your last reply. Both Cal and Stanford have some of the greatest D1 Athletic Programs in the country. As of August 2006, the Cal Bears are the #12 ranked football program in the Bowl Subdivision of D1 football, #11 Men's soccer, #10 Women's soccer and #17 Women's Volleyball. I could go on...that is just their Fall sports. Now, Stanford has won the Director's Cup for best overall D1 Athletic Program in the country for the past 10 years. Looking down the list of top tanked schools there is an abundance of "great Athletic programs." Major research institutions can both thrive and have great Athletics. With a school of our size and stature, D1 is where we belong. ChrisPerry

Legislative shadiness

The only reason I wanted to come to Davis because I knew it had a good sports program, albeit Division 2 at the time. I only applied to schools with good sports programs, which is the reason I didn't apply to Harvard. In all seriousness though, the students are getting screwed. The move to D-1 was illegal because of the filing deadline to put the Campus Expansion Initiative on the ballot. The administration ignored the deadline but got their way because they are the administration. They bundled the D-1 expansion with the Coffee House expansion and the expansion of the Cowell Student Health Center. The Health Center funding could have been easily payed for with grants but they needed another thing to bundle with D-1. If you liked one expansion but not the other - tough - it was all or nothing with the expansion imitative. The students were also uneducated on the topic. They didn't have enough time to learn about it but even with all the other cool expansions the vote was only 51% in D-1's favor. The students saw the price tag and many of them said, "Hell no." It may be presumptuous of me but seeing as the political slate in change of the ASUCD at the time was Student Focus and since the have a history of shady activity when it comes to elections I wouldn't be surprised if the administration convinced their friends in yellow shirts to go door to door on frat row or in the dorms in order to ask if they can use someone's computer and log-in information to vote in the election. But really, it is not that I am against UC Davis being D-1. I am against the students paying for it. If we can't get the sports program and advertisers to do it now then how do we know they will do it later. It shows that maybe being D-1 isn't that marketable. UCD invented the Square Tomato! Who cares if we win a football game or not? I don't. The only sports game I have ever attended is Intramural Sports. Next time I see Larry Vanderhoef I'm going to ask him if I can use that $20 million stadium he is building for a miniature golf course on the 357 days out of the year that there will not be a football game going on. -RobRoy

  • Don't forget to schedule your golf game around football and marching band practices. — RussBowlus