The University of California San Diego’s undergraduate student body has voted in favor of moving the institution’s 23-team intercollegiate athletics program to NCAA Division I. In a weeklong special election, the students voted in approval of a referendum that will result in an increased student fee to cover the costs associated with a non-football Division I athletics program.
A total of 8,828 ballots were cast, with 6,137 in favor, 2,567 against and 124 abstentions.
“This has been a student-centered initiative from the very beginning and to see that the majority of our students favor a move to NCAA Division I demonstrates that they recognize the change as a progressive step for both our athletic program and UC San Diego as a whole,” said UC San Diego Director of Athletics Earl W. Edwards. “Division I will help extend the entire university’s culture of excellence, align us with peer academic institutions, improve the student experience, strengthen our brand, increase alumni engagement and further our community connection. This move will impact the entire campus in a multitude of ways.”
The student vote was a key milestone in what will be an ongoing process to get UC San Diego Athletics to the Division I level. Included in that process will be securing an invitation for membership into the nine-team Big West Conference which currently includes four UC members—Santa Barbara, Irvine, Davis and Riverside—as well as taking additional steps, including review by the Academic Senate, prior to officially submitting an application for NCAA Division I. Other Big West schools include Cal Poly, Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge and the University of Hawai’i.0