Plan for Intercollegiate Sports Moves Forward

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 Conference, 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.

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