Put Them in, Coach! UC Merced Grooming the Field for Sports Program

MERCED - The roster of great college sports matchups - Berkeley vs. Stanford, UNC vs. Duke and UCLA vs. USC - will someday include UC Merced.

The new university's goal of having competitive sports teams is in sight. The first team to form is the Competitive Sports Committee, which will determine the first sports programs UC Merced will offer.

Students are interested in crew, swimming, water polo, baseball, volleyball, soccer and cross country. In fact, tryouts have already been held for a baseball team, and participants say they're ready to take the field.

"The students have been the driving force behind the development of competitive sports," said David Dunham, Director of Campus Recreation and Athletics. "They are ready to put on their UC Merced jerseys and represent their campus."

All sports launched will be competitive clubs that compete against other universities' clubs. Competition could involve any of the UC sister campuses, as well as many of the CSU schools.

UC Merced teams might also have opportunities to compete on regional and national levels, including vying for national championships.

The new committee - made up of community members, students and UC Merced faculty and staff - are charged with evaluating student interest in various sports; developing the criteria for accepting competitive sports teams; determining budget requirements for each sport; investigating potential facilities for competition and practice; and
making recommendations on what competitive sport clubs to launch during the 2006-2007 school year.

The committee will meet weekly through September, and deliver a report to Jane Lawrence, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, by early October.

Once that has been completed, another committee, made up of students, faculty, staff, community members and athletics administrators, will develop a master plan for the intercollegiate sports programs at UC Merced.

The sports teams forming this year are likely to be the foundation for the campus's transition to the NCAA Division III level in the future.

"We are looking forward to bringing our students, faculty and staff together with the community to help shape the development of athletics at UC Merced," Dunham said. "The community has been tremendously supportive of our campus, and once again, people show their support by working side-by-side with students to create a student-centered vision for athletics."

Competitive Sports Committee members:
PJ Solomon
Mary Panos
Ruben Rodriguez
Cody Martin
Nadim Fawzy

Greg Bradford
Mike Carpenter
Erin Hamm
Jennifer Euker
Vince Clemons
George Kelley
Corbett Browning
Scott Hunter

David Dunham, Director of Recreation and Athletics
Mike Campbell, Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations
James Ortez, Assistant Dean of Social Sciences, Humanities & Arts

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