Blue Ribbon Commission Releases Intercollegiate Athletics Report

Proposal provides guidelines for creation of competitive sports program at UC Merced

UC Merced Athletics Bobcat LogoMERCED - The University of California, Merced, now has a strategic plan to guide the future of its athletics program. The Chancellor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics,which was convened in July, released its report today, April 22.

The commission, which includes Los Angeles Galaxy coach Cobi Jones, and other UC Merced representatives and community supporters, lent guidance to a consulting team hired by the university to research the best way for the campus to build its competitive athletics program.

"Athletics is a crucial component to university life," said David Dunham, director of recreation and athleticsfor UC Merced. "But in order for it to be effective, the program must be strategically planned and methodically carried out. Thanks to the efforts of the Chancellor's Blue Ribbon Commission and the consulting team, UC Merced now has that strategic plan to follow."

The consultants, Cedric Dempsey and Ted Leland, both have a long history in collegiate athletics. Dempsey served as president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association from 1994 to 2003, and Leland was athletic director of Stanford University from 1991 to 2005.
The report contains 13 recommendations that UC Merced will use in forming its intercollegiate athletics program. Of those recommendations, four are highlighted here:

1. It's recommended that UC Merced adopt "Core and Supplemental Criteria" to be used when evaluating which sports should be chosen for intercollegiate competition.

  • Before a sport is added to UC Merced's athletics program, it first must be evaluated to determine whether it is compatible with the university's academic mission, whether there is a demonstrated student interest in the sport and whether adding the sport maintains compliance with Title IX.
  • Supplemental criteria include but are not limited to the following: whether compatible competition exists, whether UC Merced has access to appropriate facilities, whether the sport is cost-effective, whether it encourages positive lifelong health habits, and whether it has potential for success at UC Merced.

2. It's recommended that UC Merced set a goal of 12 sports (six for men and six for women). The sports should be phased in over time with two sports added per phase.

3. During the initial phase-in period, it's recommended that UC Merced compete at the NCAA Division III or NAIA level.

  • In evaluating the best level of competition for UC Merced, the consultants and commission considered five factors: cost of operation, geographic distribution of competitive schools, similarity of competitive schools, potential conference alignment and potential for community interest and student support.

4. It's recommended that UC Merced's long-term goal should be to compete in NCAA Division II.

  • If the program has demonstrated competitive success at the NCAA D-II/NAIA level by the sixth year, the commission recommends that the university apply for membership in NCAA Division II.

"What we've created here is a road map for athletics at UC Merced," Leland said Wednesday morning. "It's our hope that the recommendations listed here will guide the university in the creation of a solid program that instills pride in its students, faculty, staff and community supporters."

This report comes on the heels of UC Merced launching its new athletics logo in October. The fiercer looking Golden Bobcat now graces all athletic uniforms and merchandise in the campus store.

Now that the commission has released its report, campus officials will spend the summer digesting the recommendations before taking action in the fall. The next step will be for Chancellor Steve Kang to appoint an athletic advisory committee, which will guide the formation of UC Merced's athletics program.


Tonya Luiz
UC Merced Office of Communications

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