Undergraduate students at the University of California San Diego voted to raise student athletic fees, the first step in the long process of jumping from the NCAA’s Division II to Division I.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that students voted to more than double their student athletics fees (the amount built into student tuition that helps fund a school’s athletic department) in order to help UCSD make the leap, with almost 70% of students supporting the move.
The Union-Tribune said the results “could be a historic vote,” especially after two previous votes to move to Division I failed. The most recent was in 2012 – that proposal saw 51% of the student population vote, while the current vote included only 35% of eligible voters, according to The Union-Tribune.
The vote is only one step in what would be a long adjustment process – the current target wouldn’t see UCSD as full-fledged Division I members until 2023 at the earliest.
The increase in student fees is contingent on UCSD earning an invitation to the Big West Conference. The school applied in 2010 but was passed over for Hawaii. Now, 7 of 9 Big West schools must accept UCSD’s application for the process to continue moving forward.
From there, UCSD must spend two years increasing their scholarship amounts from Division II levels to the levels required for NCAA Division I application. The school must then apply with the NCAA and eventually begin the 4-year process of joining Division I – that process includes a period where the school’s athletes are not eligible to compete at Division I NCAAs.
The move to Division I would cap a fast rise for the school’s athletic program, which jumped from Division III to Division II back in the 1990s.
The Triton swimming & diving program currently competes in the Pacific Collegiate Swimming and Diving Conference (PCSC), where they have won 8 consecutive conference titles in both genders.
UCSD would have to find a separate conference for swimming & diving, as the Big West hasn’t offered swimming since 2010. Most of the former Big West swimming & diving programs have moved over to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
Though The Union-Tribune reports that UCSD – which doesn’t have a football program – would face major challenges in some sports, like basketball, with a move to Division I, the swimming & diving program would currently be pretty competitive in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
UCSD competed against a number of Division I programs at last year’s A3 Invite in November, finishing 5th of 14 teams on the women’s side and 4th out of 8 on the men’s side.