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Plan for Intercollegiate Sports Moves Forward

October 28, 2010

Survey will gauge student interest in advance of NAIA
application in January;

Varsity play expected to begin in Fall 2011

Quick Facts
  • A student survey will help guide decisions about which sports
    UC Merced should offer and whether a student fee should be
    implemented to pay for them.
  • The university will apply for National Association of
    Intercollegiate Athletics membership in January, with acceptance
    expected in April and the first varsity sports to begin competition
    in Fall 2011.
  • The process is being guided by the Athletic Advisory Committee,
    which includes representatives from faculty, staff, alumni,
    undergraduate and graduate students, athletics administration and
    the community.

MERCED — Progress is continuing toward an intercollegiate
athletics program at the University of California, Merced, with a
student interest survey beginning soon in advance of the campus’
application to the
National Association of
Intercollegiate Athletics
(NAIA) in January.

The campus remains on track to begin intercollegiate competition
in at least two sports in Fall 2011, according to Director of
Recreation and Athletics David Dunham.

The survey, administered by Institutional Planning and Analysis
on behalf of the Athletic Advisory Committee, will begin going out
by e-mail to students this weekend. Its questions are designed to
gauge the students’ interest in having an intercollegiate athletics
program on campus, their preferences as to which sports should be
included, and their openness to the possibility of a student fee to
finance the athletics program.

“The survey is another step toward our goal of implementing an
intercollegiate athletic program,” Dunham said. “We are excited to
hear from the students on what sports they would like to see at the
varsity level on campus and to see what their level of support for
intercollegiate athletics is.”

Dunham said the campus expects to submit its membership
application to the NAIA in January, with a decision expected to
come at the NAIA National Convention in April. Dunham said he’s
confident that UC Merced’s application will be accepted.

If it is, the Golden Bobcats are expected to begin varsity
competition in Fall 2011, with sports to be determined in part by
the results of the survey. The timing is in line with the April
2009 recommendations from the Chancellor’s Blue Ribbon Commission
on Intercollegiate Athletics, though with a slower pace in terms of
how many sports are to be added each year, Dunham said.

“This is another important step in the growth of our campus,”
said Jane F. Lawrence, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs.
“Athletics is another great way to build school spirit and link the
campus and community. We are very excited to be moving forward with
this process.”

The Athletic Advisory Committee includes representatives from
faculty, staff, alumni, undergraduate and graduate students,
athletics administration and the community. It was created in
September 2009 and was itself a recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Commission.

As an NAIA member, UC Merced would likely compete in the
California Pacific
, which also includes Bethany University, California
Maritime Academy, Holy Names University, Menlo College, Mills
College, Pacific Union College, Simpson University and William
Jessup University.

In addition to the planned varsity sports, UC Merced currently
has 14 club teams, many of which compete against club teams from
other colleges and universities. The current list of clubs includes
archery, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball, dance,
martial arts, cheer, cross country, lacrosse, men’s soccer, women’s
soccer, softball, men’s volleyball and women’s volleyball.


James Leonard