(Brian Wickstrom, Director of Athletics, UC Riverside)
I commend you for at least vetting this issue and not making a unilateral decision based on economics, Title 9, support, popularity or other internal influences…thank you for that!
I had the privilege of playing Div. 1 football and basketball, earning my degree on a “full scholarship”. I went to work for a major sporting goods company in 1971, Tennis was my first job and now 41 years later Tennis still is my job!
There is a reason that tennis is the “sport of life”…it is something you can do for life! I gave up my football and basketball 40 years ago, but I still play tennis! I noticed on the UCR website your “mission statement” is “A Place to Teach, a Place to Learn, a Place to Grow” …I focus on the word “grow”, how can cutting a program with so much tradition, so many former athletes in our communities that are leaders and role models, support growth? If indeed the mission is to educate and to put forth responsible citizens and not just winning on the athletic field support your mission? Tennis has over 27,000,000 (TIA/USTA fact) in the US playing today! All ages, sex & race, 4,800,000 are what is referred to as frequent players, playing at over 13,666 facilities. The sport is in the “fabric” of US sports (International as well), Southern California is the leader.
I truly hope this is not a closed issue and that the decision has not been made Brian! The good thing about this, is, it is a “wake up call” for our sport in Southern California. I understand your concerns and problems, please let us help? I am a Board Member of SCTA/USTA, if you click on the link http://www.scta.usta.com/ you will see the UCR Men’s Tennis story, it is viewed by our 46,000 members and the public. I am the Chair of the SCTA Communications Committee, I would pledge that our committee would do its best to promote the UCR tennis program (Men’s, Women’s & Tennis on Campus) as we would any other viable tennis program. In addition we would get our tennis partners in Southern California to do the same!
I also work for the Active Network www.activesports.com we are the IT partner for the USTA http://tennislink.usta.com/TOURNAMENTS/Common/Default.aspx and for the ITA http://www.itatennis.com/ we may also be in a position to help promote the UCR tennis progam.
In closing please do the right thing, I realize you have a tough job! It is easy to cut….the real tough job is building! Really consider the great tradition and the impact of dropping this program will have on the community and many young students striving to play varsity tennis in the UC arena! I (we) look forward to your response and ideas to save this program!
USTA Executive Committee
USTA Nominating Committee
Chairman SCTA Communictions Committee
University of California, Riverside
Dear Mr. Wickstrom:
Like others in the tennis community, we were saddened to learn of UC Riverside's plans to eliminate or downgrade the tennis program. Our Association staff and volunteers who reside in the Inland Empire regularly praise your school for its athletic strength and community-minded vision.
We understand the economic realities confronting UC Riverside and other schools in balancing academics and sports. We do not have all the answers. However, in other instances, we have seen the following as remedies to lift sagging finances and spirits.
- A varsity program generates publicity for the school, creates a loyal contributing alumni base and provides another reason for prospective students to considerUC Riverside.
- The expense to demolish/renovate the space that tennis courts occupied for a lesser use is itself a budget drain.
- Tennis courts are easily converted to money-makers for summer camps, as rentals to local public and private school tennis teams, and "flat space" for concerts and events.
- Despite the loss of the varsity program, the facilities nurture recreational play for students, faculty and the public. The USTA Tennis on Campus Program, which caters to non-varsity players, is thriving on 15 Southern California campuses and signifies the commitment our sport engenders. A brochure on this outstanding program is attached.
As chairman of the SCTA Community Development Committee and the Advocacy Committee, we believe we can help UC Riverside save its wonderful athletic resources. Pleased be assured that our Association personnel stand ready to assist your fine institution in any way possible.
Tom Fey, Chairman
Community Dev. Committee
Kathy Willette, Chairperson