Intercollegiate Athletics next steps

May 6, 2021
Kim A. Wilcox
May 6, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

In November, I announced the establishment of the Athletics Working Group to conduct a thorough assessment of Intercollegiate Athletics on the UC Riverside campus; review challenges and opportunities; and make recommendations on the long-term sustainability of the program.

Over the past few months, the working group has engaged many internal and external stakeholders, carefully assessed the Athletics financial situation, conducted a competitor analysis of similarly-sized institutions and athletics programs, and made recommendations on next steps. 

Now that the efforts of the Athletics Working Group have nearly concluded I can confirm that Intercollegiate Athletics will continue at UC Riverside at the Division I level in the Big West Conference with 17 sports. 

Thank you to the student-athletes and staff who have gracefully remained committed to excellence in and outside of the classroom during this period of uncertainty.

While Athletics will continue at UCR, we are making notable structural changes in response to its significant financial challenges. These changes range from permanent budget reductions, increasing revenue generation activities, and organizational restructuring to help ensure the program’s long-term viability.

Intercollegiate Athletics will integrate with the Student Affairs division, with Interim Athletics Director Wes Mallette now reporting to Brian Haynes, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. We anticipate that this organizational integration will help achieve operational efficiencies and fiscal savings, improve the fan experience, enhance recreational and club sports on campus, and deepen the connection between Athletics and current and future UCR students.

Beginning immediately, Intercollegiate Athletics will implement a three-year financial and operational plan to achieve substantial permanent budget reductions, increase externally generated revenue, and move toward financial stability. 

In coordination with student leaders, the university will explore a potential student referendum in the 2021-22 academic year to consider an increase to the Division I athletics fee, which is the lowest in the Big West Conference and has remained unchanged for 20 years.

These and other changes will be evaluated annually to confirm that we make consistent and tangible process toward these goals, which are essential to assuming the long-term viability of Division I athletics at UCR. 

Thank you to the entire Athletics Working Group, Vice Chancellor Brian Haynes, and Interim Athletics Director Wes Mallette for their considerable efforts in recent months to thoughtfully assess our situation and make recommendations on the future of Athletics on the UCR campus.