Athletics Chair to boost spirit

The University of San Diego is not known for its stellar school spirit and devotion to athletics. In an attempt to solve this problem, Associated Students (AS) electronically distributed a campus-wide vote on March 2 to amend the AS Constitution to add a new executive board position. The amendment was approved 478-91 votes.

According to the AS Constitution, the Athletics Chair will be a liaison between the Athletics administration and the student body. The chairperson will also lead spirit initiatives for the school.

Photo Courtesy of USD Bull Pit/Facebook

Senior Danny McConville, AS Communications Chair, commented on the new position.

“Associated Students feels that this position will help create better school spirit that surrounds the realm of athletics,” McConville said. “As many students know, school spirit has not been strong, and the position aims to be the perfect start to solving this issue. The Athletics Chair will give a student more freedom to try and create a sense of community at our sporting events.”

According to AS President TJ Hodges, the Athletics Chair’s budget will be separate from the student organization budget.

“The finance committee distributes about $1.2 million every year,” Hodges said. “About $75,000 of that goes to student organizations. Since this is an executive position, they will have their own budget that they will have to get approved by the [Student] Senate.”

This budget is supposed to go toward spirit initiatives and programs, including the Bull Pit, which will be led by the Athletics Chair.

The AS Bylaws were also amended by the Senate to outline the duties of the Athletics Chair. In 20 bulletpoints, the bylaws lay out expectations from spirit initiatives to interactions with the Athletics Department.

Some of the duties include meeting with every athletic team coach at least once a year, attending all Student Athlete Advisory Committee meetings, working with the Torero Program Board for sports-related programming, frequently attending NCAA games, and serving as the AS representative on the Athletics Committee of the Board of Trustees.

Sophomore Mary Clancy is on the swim team at USD. Clancy said that she is interested in running for the Athletics Chair position in the upcoming AS elections.

“I would like to run, depending on time commitments for various meetings the position requires, because I am very passionate about school spirit on campus,” Clancy said. “I want to begin initiatives to get more students to games, wear USD apparel, and overall have a stronger sense of pride in the school.”

As a student athlete, Clancy said that there is a distancing between athletes and the other organizations on campus.

“I never felt a lack of support, just a disconnect between athletics and the rest of campus,” Clancy said. “I hope this position allows greater communication of needs between the athletic department and the student government.”

Sophomore Om Kanwar is a residential senator on AS. Kanwar said he was one of the driving forces behind the formation of the Athletics Chair.

“I used to be on the cross-country team,” Kanwar said. “As a former student athlete, I understood where the school was lacking. Often times I felt, in my time as an athlete at least, that we were a little isolated from the rest of campus. I think there are better ways to integrate athletics with the rest of campus so that student-athletes and the rest of the athletics department isn’t isolated and thus there would be more fluency from one end of campus to the other.”

As a big supporter for the position, Kanwar said that he was excited to see how it will affect USD.

“It is an exciting time at USD,” Kanwar said. “There is a chance for tangible change that the students can experience. They will see it when there are a bunch of people at the games.”

Hodges explained his motivations behind creating this position.

“It originated with me,” Hodges said. “I noticed a trend where every year students would campaign for more school spirit and attempt to do something about it and to change structurally. We needed a student voice in athletics.”

Hodges said that, as a student athlete, he brought a different agenda to his presidency than his predecessors.

“I am the first student athlete president in twenty years,” Hodges said. “I had an inside view of athletics. There would have been things left unaddressed if I had not addressed them.”

Hodges said that he first saw the need for the position when the new Athletic Director, Bill McGillis, was hired.

“When the new Athletic Director was hired [in the fall], there was not much student input in that decision,” Hodges said. “I noticed this and so did other student athletes. I tried to get a student on the board, but it didn’t work. We then had a bigger meeting with athletics, administration, and student athletes about input in the athletics department.”

Since the position is integrated into the structure of AS, and it is an elected position, Hodges said he thinks it will have a greater impact.

“We need a student that addresses school spirit,” Hodges said. “The position is merging with Bull Pit: they will have a budget, and it will be someone who can be elected, so they can campaign and be known among the student body.”

With AS elections around the corner, the USD student body will be able to decide who they want to take on the position. Who knows, maybe Torero Stadium will be packed in the fall.

Elisabeth Smith | News Editor