Sometimes in the wake of reports of grade fraud among university athletes and special perks team members receive, the importance of a quality campus sports program can be lost.

For example, the University of California- San Diego boasts of a top-notch fencing team that sent four competitors to the Junior Olympics.  Student Alia Bales praises the university’s balance of support for its athletes and emphasis on scholarship.

Last year, the Division I referendum sparked much controversy on campus. The referendum, if passed, would have given UCSD the opportunity to move from Division II to Division I if offered a spot in a Division I conference. If the move had been made, each undergraduate would have had to pay $495 more in student fees. The opposition asserted that only student athletes would have directly benefited from the move because they would have gained eligibility for larger scholarships.

Although the referendum failed, some students view the athletic department as parasitic, sucking more than their fair share of student funds. At UCSD, however, the privileges athletes receive are limited to a $500 scholarship per year, priority registration and an allowance for away meets. These benefits are necessary for facilitating an environment where student athletes can maximize their athletic and academic success.

For example, the $500 scholarship UCSD athletes receive helps in the recruiting process. Cross-country athletes, for instance, are given two pairs of running shoes during their season. Yet due to the number of miles these athletes must run, it is necessary for these athletes to buy four shoes — costing $100 a pop — to prevent injuries from bad shoes. The scholarship thus helps support their health and athletic success.

Bales concludes:

The experience of UCSD student athletes is not even close to what the mass media represents as the typical collegiate athletic experience. Instead of a place of excess and wealth, it champions academics and school pride. A perfect example of symbiosis.