Update on Additional Opportunities for Women in Athletics

In November 2017, the UC Davis athletics department announced that it would provide additional opportunities for women in athletics, starting in the 2018-19 academic year, to maintain compliance with Title IX. A nomination process ensued to gather proposals for the team or teams to be added. A working group has been charged with analyzing the proposals and making a recommendation to the chancellor. In the following statement, posted Feb. 16, the working group listed the four most viable options for a new team or teams.

We would like to provide an update about the ongoing process of selecting a new women’s varsity athletics team for UC Davis.

Our working group has reviewed each of the nominated teams and continues to analyze options using the four previously published criteria: number of participation opportunities, philanthropic support, competitive opportunity, and conference affiliation.

This update outlines a few of the most important considerations that have shaped our analysis so far. It also explains which teams we consider to be the most viable for addition based on our analysis to date. 

A significant number of participation opportunities must be added

Projections of undergraduate student body demographics indicate that we will need to add as many as 40 to 45 new participation opportunities for female student athletes. We also feel it is important to retain the flexibility to increase this number in the future, given current enrollment trends.

Accordingly, we are considering teams that can support relatively large squad sizes to be most viable.

We are also evaluating the possibility of adding two smaller teams that, when participation opportunities are combined, may add up to a satisfactory number of female student-athletes at a lower net cost than one larger team.

NCAA-sponsored sports are strongly preferred

It is not a requirement that a sport be sponsored by the NCAA for a team to achieve varsity status or count for Title IX purposes. However, after researching potential playing schedules for the nominated teams, we found that sports sponsored by the NCAA were more able to support a competitive schedule at the varsity level.

Another benefit of adding a team that competes in an NCAA-sponsored sport is incremental revenue. As part of its annual distribution, the NCAA provides institutions with a modest amount of revenue for each NCAA-sponsored team that the institution carries (i.e., revenue is provided for each team exceeding the base number of 13 teams). The NCAA also provides modest funding to support student-athlete scholarships in NCAA-sponsored sports.

Accordingly, our working group decided that teams under further consideration must participate in sports that are sponsored by the NCAA or have attained NCAA emerging sport status.

A facility must be easily accessible to student athletes

Our analysis identified that access to a facility that is on campus or reasonably close to campus is a critical factor. Facility enhancements may be required as part of the launch of a new team and the viability of any facility enhancements will be evaluated during the analysis of startup costs.

The 4 most viable options

There are the four options that our working group considers to be most viable at this juncture. Two of them involve adding a single, large team, while the others involve adding two smaller teams. Here are the teams or team combinations, listed alphabetically:

  • Beach volleyball and rugby
    • Roster sizes — Beach volleyball, 12-20; rugby, 25-35
    • Number of Division I programs — Beach volleyball, 55; rugby, 8
    • Notes — Beach volleyball is sponsored by the Big West; UC Davis already excels in club rugby.
  • Equestrian
    • Roster sizes — 25-55
    • Number of Division I programs — 17
    • Note — Equestrian is complementary to some notable academic strengths of UC Davis.
  • Fencing and rugby
    • Roster sizes — Fencing, 14-22; rugby, 25-35
    • Number of Division I programs — Fencing, 25; rugby, 8
    • Note — UC Davis already excels in club rugby.
  • Rowing
    • Roster sizes — 55-70
    • Number of Division I programs — 88
    • Note — Women's rowing had varsity status at UC Davis as recently as 2010.

Sources: Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act reports and school websites

Philanthropic support is an important factor for selection

We are reviewing detailed information related to costs and donor support for the teams most strongly being considered. As we’ve stated from the outset, philanthropic support to defray startup costs and support ongoing annual expenses is an important factor for selection.

Our aspiration is to launch this new team in a manner that enables sustained competitiveness at the Division I level. Annual gift support is an important part of the athletics program. All varsity teams have expectations for private funding support. Accordingly, our expectation is that private gifts will contribute significantly to  funding the operations of this new program.

Intercollegiate Athletics fundraising staff will be connecting with prospective donors and alumni to fully understand the degree of philanthropic support available to support each of the teams under strongest consideration. Part of this process involves inviting donors to make binding, five-year pledges to financially support their preferred teams; gifts would be paid only if donors’ preferred team or teams are selected.

A “contingent” pledge document is now available specifically for this purpose. It will be sent by email to all survey respondents who nominated either rugby, rowing, fencing, equestrian or beach volleyball, and also indicated interest in making gifts to support their nominated teams. The contingent pledge document is available to anyone who would like to make a gift and can be obtained by sending an email to Rob Norris (assistant athletics director for development) at athleticsdevelopment@ucdavis.edu. Interested donors should be sure to make their pledges by March 9, 2018.

Next steps

We will continue the process of analyzing startup costs, ongoing costs and philanthropic support for the teams that are in strongest consideration.

We anticipate making a recommendation to the chancellor about the team or teams to be added by the end of the winter quarter.

Thank you, and Go Ags!

Josh Dalavai, president, ASUCD
Kelly Ratliff, vice chancellor, Finance, Operations and Administration
Kevin Blue, director of athletics
Scott Carrell, Faculty Athletics Representative
Sheila O’Rourke, campus counsel
Wendi Delmendo, Title IX coordinator and chief compliance officer

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