Dear UC Davis Community,
I'm writing to you today with an update about our varsity sports lineup. Starting in the 2018-2019 academic year, we will add a women's team to increase the number of varsity women's programs to 15, and our total number of overall varsity sports programs to 24. We are excited about this opportunity to add another women's team to the UC Davis Athletics family, and I wanted to share some details that explain the rationale for this change.
Related to intercollegiate sports, Title IX of Education Amendments Act of 1972 is designed to ensure fair and equitable athletics opportunities for female and male students. At UC Davis, we comply with Title IX by providing varsity athletics participation opportunities for female and male student-athletes that are substantially proportional to the percentage of female and male students comprising the undergraduate student body.
In 2011-2012, the year prior to launching the 2020 Initiative, the undergraduate population at UC Davis was 55.1% women and 44.9% men. By 2016-2017, undergraduate proportionality changed to 59.4% women and 40.6% men. The number of varsity athletics opportunities for female student-athletes has not changed as swiftly, this is why we are taking action to increase opportunities.
The process to determine which team to add is guided by the terms of a stipulated judgment related to a Title IX complaint that occurred in 2007. Please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page for more information, including how to nominate a team for consideration.
In making this decision, we are taking into consideration several factors including the philanthropic support for a team, the number of participation opportunities that a team would potentially add, conference affiliation for sports under consideration (UC Davis competes in more than one NCAA conference, depending on the sport), and the competitive opportunities afforded to us by adding a particular team.
While we are excited about the prospects of adding another team, we are highly cognizant of the challenges involved. Accordingly, we are focused on identifying a team that would receive strong donor support, both at its launch and on a continuing basis. Additionally, we are working with central administration to ensure that the addition of this new team does not redirect resources from existing sports programs. Donors to our existing programs should be reassured that their contributions will continue to have the same important impact as they currently have. Philanthropic dollars directed to existing programs will continue to fully, and exclusively support these programs. If gifts in support of the new team do not fully cover its operations initially, institutional funding designated to address the enrollment shift that occurred will provide bridging support.
UC Davis has historically been a leader in women's athletics and helped pioneer the implementation of Title IX in college athletics decades ago. The 15 women's programs we will sponsor going forward far exceed the national average of nine and Big West average of 10. We recently launched the Marya Welch Initiative for Women's Sports, an important fundraising effort to increase support for our women's programs.
We look forward to continuing our tradition of women's sports leadership for years to come.
Thank you for your continued support of UC Davis Athletics, especially as we embark on this exciting change.
Best regards and Go Ags!
Director of Athletics