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Regents postpone decision on tying athletic bonuses to academics

By Rafael Sands and Emily Liu

Jan. 22, 2015 4:48 p.m.

The original version of this article contained an error and has been changed. See the bottom of the article for more information.

SAN FRANCISCO — The University of California Board of Regents approved the appointment of a new chief operating officer and compensation packages for two new executive positions but postponed a decision on a proposal to tie athletic bonuses to student-athlete academic performance at their bimonthly meeting Thursday.

Athletes’ academic performance and coaches’ incentives

Disagreement between some regents led the board to postpone voting on a proposal that would tie coaches’ and athletic directors’ bonuses to a team’s Academic Progress Rate, or APR, a metric used by the NCAA to penalize teams with athletes who don’t meet certain academic standards or drop out of school.

The board agreed that more discussion was necessary before moving forward with the measure, said Regent George Kieffer.

Under the proposal, a team would have to maintain an APR score of at least 930 points out of a total of 1,000 for its coach to receive any monetary incentives.

Differences between Lieut. Gov. Gavin Newsom and UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero, who attended Thursday’s meeting, sparked a heated discussion about whether academics should be a serious priority in the lives of student-athletes.

Newsom argued that the 930-point minimum is too low to make any real difference, emphasizing the point that only one team from all the UC campuses does not already meet that APR. Most already meet it because the NCAA requires this score from a team for it to be eligible to play in any playoff series.

“We’re doing almost nothing here, under the illusion that we’re doing something,” Newsom said about the requirement.

Guerrero defended himself by saying he doesn’t think the scoring is fair, as players who drop out early to play professionally hurt their team’s APR. He said he thinks coaches shouldn’t be punished for working to develop great players who leave early to play professionally but who may also be great students.

Students protest against tuition hike

Six students, led by Jaimeson Cortez, a third-year political science student and member of the UCLA Campus Events Commission, and UC Berkeley student Spencer Pritchard protested the UC’s tuition increase proposal during the meeting’s public comment session.

“We do not accept that our decision makers are debating solutions to budget shortfalls without acknowledging that the system’s key stakeholders – the students – will have to pay for these hikes,” said Caitlin Quinn, external affairs vice president of UC Berkeley’s Associated Students of the UC, during the public comment period.

UC President Janet Napolitano announced the tuition proposal at the November regents meeting, when she said she thinks the current budget isn’t enough to fund the University and that without increased state funding, a tuition hike is the only option.

Two of the protesters, including Cortez, were held and escorted by security forces out of the meeting room after they jumped a barrier separating members of the public from the regents and attempted to pass a letter to Napolitano. The students were not arrested, and they were released shortly.

The regents also discussed other topics, including:

  • Officials announced that, if the UC were to raise tuition by 5 percent over the next five years, 50 percent of the new funds generated by the increases would fund systemwide mental health services, said Gina Fleming, medical director of UC student health insurance program. Fleming said rising demand for mental health support has overwhelmed University resources, yet funding constraints in recent years have limited mental health programs. The fees would go toward hiring more psychologists and psychiatrists on UC campuses to meet the staff-to-population ratios recommended by the University’s lead psychiatrist.
  • The regents discussed various alternative funding proposals, such as considering recent proposals from the state legislature, raising nonresident supplemental tuition, freezing enrollment and utilizing alternative revenue streams from state propositions such as Proposition 2 and the University’s capital fund revenue.
  • Rachael Nava, current chief operating officer for Central California Alliance for Health, will oversee systemwide operations, including human resources and IT services, as the University’s new executive vice president and chief operating officer starting Feb. 9.
  • The responsibilities of former senior vice president of external relations Daniel Dooley and former vice president of budget and capital resources Patrick Lenz, who both recently left the University, will be redistributed between two new executive positions. Julie Henderson, who was chief of staff and senior policy adviser to Dooley, will be the senior vice president of public affairs, and Nelson Peacock, senior adviser to Napolitano, will be the senior vice president of government relations. Some regents expressed concern about the size of their compensation packages, which will begin at $330,000 and $280,000 a year respectively.

Correction: Six students protested the tuition hike proposal, not five. Jamieson Cortez led the protest along with UC Berkeley student Spencer Pritchard.

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