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Blue Ribbon Commission Releases Intercollegiate Athletics Report

April 22, 2009

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
athletics
for 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.

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Tonya Luiz

UC Merced Office of Communications


tluiz@ucmerced.edu