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June 09, 2004

Looking For Respect: Cal State-Monterey Bay’s Leap To D2

FROM THE CENTRAL COAST OF CALIFORNIA comes an inspiring—or irresponsible (depends on who you listen to)—tale of an upstart Cal State grabbing for the brass ring at its first opportunity.

The institution in the spotlight is California State University-at Monterey Bay, tagged with the unwieldy and currently unrecognizable acronym of CSUMB.

Capitalizing on a school-wide inferiority complex, CSUMB has been presented with a once-in-a-decade opportunity to lift itself up by the bootstraps and get some respect. The opportunity is to make the long leap from NAIA to NCAA Division II.

CSUMB is getting its shot because powerhouse UC-Davis is abandoning the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) to make the jump up to Division I.

Consequently, an energetic collection of optimists have been running full speed to do what it takes to allow the CSUMB Otters to ascend to its destiny.

The CCAA is regarded as one of the top D2 conferences in the country; its members have won a total 144 national titles. Thus, it would seem that the Otters would gain esteem merely by being a part of that club. However, it could backfire if they end up being the doormat of the league for several years.

CSUMB has existed in near anonymity for its entire existence. It was established only ten years ago, and it is hardly known beyond the Central California coastal area. Cal State campuses in Humboldt, San Jose, Chico, Long Beach, Fullerton and Dominguez Hills are much better known.

Can-do university leaders are scrambling to accumulate a $15 million endowment that would eliminate the need to go back to contributors year after year.

Much of the university has been built on the run-down properties of Fort Ord, which was built in 1951 and appears to have been steadily slipping toward disrepair ever since. Considerable investment would have to be applied to bring the facilities up to D2 snuff.

Furthermore, large sums of money are needed for the athletics operating budget, which has doubled in one year to almost $900,000. Plus it is projected to grow to almost $1.5 million by 2007-2008.

Since this is a long-term investment; the assessment of whether CSUMB’s move is a success or a failure cannot be made for 5-10 years from now.

Stay tuned . . .


(this 379 word excerpt was distilled from a medley of 5 articles totaling 5850 words from the Monterey Herald of 6-7-04)