SANTA CRUZ (CBS SF) -- All athletics at UC Santa Cruz could be shoved to the sidelines as university officials leave the decision of whether or not to eliminate the school's program in the hands of students.
The UC Santa Cruz Bananna Slugs aren't known for their athletic prowess. But they could be known as the first school in the UC system to do away with its athletics department altogether.
"These are times when the university has to make hard choices and the athletics department is one of those choices," said UCSC spokesperson Scott Hernandez-Jason. "We are here to educate students, serve the state and provide them with research opportunities. And athletics isn't core to that right now."
The one million dollars the school spends on the athletics program each year would go elsewhere.
So now the burden falls to students. This year's enrollees will vote on whether it's worth keeping the Division III sports around.
If they say yes, a fee will be proposed next year to fund them. If they say no, then the athletics program will begin winding down and next academic year will be the last year for the athletic department.
"I don't really think this a large part of my college experience, said UCSC student Juliet Busraui. "Therefore dues are already so high, it doesn't really make sense to spend money on something I don't participate in."
Club sports would still be offered, but the men's and women's soccer, basketball, cross country, swimming, diving, and women's golf and track will not.
It is a change that would be disappointing the almost 300 student athletes who were recruited to compete at UCSC.
"I think it's definitely enhanced my experience here, made it a smoother transition to college," said student athlete Casey Chin.
UCSC officials have not yet determined what that student fee would be. Students will vote on whether or not to keep the athletics program on May 11.
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