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UCR Declares Intent to Change to Division I

UCR Declares Intent to Change to Division I

(April 2, 1999)

The University of California, Riverside announced today its intentions to change from Division II to Division I status within the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Chancellor Raymond L. Orbach has sent a letter to the NCAA informing the organization of the campus' intent to reclassify the athletics program to Division I status, after consultation with faculty and student representatives.

The change requires a two-year qualifying period in which the campus must follow Division I rules and regulations. During the first year of the transition period (academic year 1999-2000), UCR will continue to compete in Division II as a member of the California Collegiate Athletic Association, but its teams and individual student-athletes will not be eligible for post-season competition. During the second year, the campus will be required to have a primarily Division I schedule for all its sports, including four new sports not currently intercollegiate.

"It is the vision of this campus to raise the level of intercollegiate athletics to the same national preeminence as our academic programs," said Orbach. "As the campus grows rapidly from 10,000 to over 15,000 students in the next few years, it makes good sense for its student-athletes to compete at the Division I level and for the other students to share in the excitement."

Michael Marlatt, president of the UCR Athletic Association, was also enthusiastic about the announcement.

"The UCR Athletics Association is proud to be a part of this exciting time in Highlanders athletics," said Marlatt. "It is a natural evolution for the UCR Athletics Program to seek the same level of national prominence that is enjoyed by UCR's outstanding academic programs.

As the President of the UCR Athletics Association, I would like to call upon sports fans from throughout the entire Inland Empire to join on the ground floor of building what promises to be a superior athletics program."

Last year, undergraduate students voted to assess themselves $35 per quarter ($105 per year) to help fund a Division I athletics program. Assessment of the fee was approved by The Regents of the University, and will be assessed at the beginning of the last year before the formal change to Division I.

The campus will be adding four new sports during the transition period: men's and women's soccer and men's and women's golf.

UCR currently offers intercollegiate competition for men's and women's basketball, baseball, women's volleyball, softball, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's cross country, and men's and women's track and field. A national recruiting effort to hire a full-time athletic director to oversee the transitional period and subsequent competition at the Division I level will begin shortly.

A Division II power since 1954, UCR has demonstrated its athletic excellence by achieving All-America status 175 times, with five team national championships, 17 individual championships, 27 regional titles, and 36 conference crowns. Additionally, 41 student-athletes have earned Academic All-America recognition on the regional or national levels since 1985.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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