The great communicator that he is, our amazing Director of Athletics Dr. Gary Cunningham once again proved where his heart really is. At the Saturday night dedication of our soccer field to the Meredith family, which has been instrumental in donating thousands of dollars to our soccer program, in reference to our great soccer coach Tim Vom Steeg, Cunningham said the following: “Tim is one of the best coaches we have here at UCLA.” Yes, in front of over 3,500 fans, many of them brand new Gauchos attending their first-ever sporting event, they heard our eloquent athletic director call UCSB, UCLA.
Many fans booed and some even yelled, “Go back to UCLA.”
This Thursday, we play your beloved UCLA Bruins and I’ll bet the farm that your media relations department will once again blow a chance to have a 30-second UCSB promo piece ready to be shown to thousands of Southern California soccer fans. Last year, UCSB alumni had to sit through six University of the Pacific commercials because our totally inept Athletic Director’s first-rate team failed to get a promo piece together to send to Fox Sports. Multiple televised spots that cost a cash-strapped university zero dollars! I wonder who you will be rooting for when we play the team from Westwood.
Gary, isn’t it time you retire? Why don’t you just resign and give us the chance to rebuild our sports program here? It’s time you leave, Gary, and you did a tremendous job of demonstrating your true passion in front of all our fans! Might we see a Bruin “12-clap” from you if UCLA does score Thursday night?
Many of us alumni have great contacts at the athletic department and the word on your style of management is a lot like another great orator of our times: George W. Bush! If anyone even crosses you, they are quickly removed. Many a UCSB marketing guy have come and gone but the stories they tell us about how completely unimaginative and impersonal you are is sickening. For a school like UCSB, which is filled with so much energy, so much enthusiasm, so much pride – we have to be stuck with you?
Chancellor Henry T. Yang, as a die hard alumnus who is passionate about UCSB and our athletic program, I ask you, being the great leader that you are, to please begin the process of finding us a new athletic director. Since you have been here Dr. Yang, you have personally worked so hard to take UCSB to amazing heights in the academic world. I have worked for UCSB for many years in your Admissions recruiting team and have seen firsthand how passionate you are about UCSB and that’s why you are so respected by so many of us alumni. But sir, with all respect, our athletic department needs a fresh start.
Why can’t we have an athletic director who breathes, sleeps, thinks, talks and drinks Gaucho blue and gold? Not someone who is more interested in the dozens of national committees they are on than reaching out and really improving the state of our athletics. It’s amazing how many times Gary is away from his duties on another “NCAA committee meeting.”
Now, the Cunningham fans (of which there are very few on this campus) will claim: “Look at all the championships we won in the last few years and how we dominated the Big West.” However, that’s all due to the amazing coaches we have who work their asses off despite the little resources we have and the little or no support they get from Gary’s office.
We need a person at the helm of our athletics who is young at heart, who believes in this school and is not in the position of athletic director during the swan dance of their career. We certainly do not need someone who says “UCLA” when referring to UCSB! Gary, do the right thing and resign!
Reza Garajedaghi is a UCSB alumnus.