The Exercise and Sport Studies program is not going down without a fight.

With the news of the ESS Dept.’s imminent closure, many program alums have been quick to voice their disapproval. Al Ferrer, the Athletic Coaching advisor and lecturer in the department, has been spreading the bad news to many of his former students and colleagues and was kind enough to provide the Daily Nexus with their responses.

For most, Ferrer’s forwarding of the Nexus’ article (Former ESS Grads Counter Shutdown, Nov. 5, 2009) was the first they had heard of the closure. Many were shocked at the discovery.

“I cannot believe that they are going to shut down the ESS Dept.,” one of Ferrer’s former students said. “That is beyond ridiculous. The classes I took for the minor (including ESS 47) were some of the few classes that I am actually able to take anything meaningful from to improve not only my career future, but my life as well.”

Many more Gaucho graduates echoed those sentiments, describing the things that the ESS minor had done for them.

“Without the ESS minor, I wouldn’t have a job right now, period,” one recent graduate working in UCSB Athletics said. “Without the Sport Management and Athletic Coaching minor, how could a guy like me get the experience I needed to do all the things I do now to make a living? Fact is, I couldn’t.”

Some took their cause immediately to the higher-ups at the university. One such alum, currently working for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League, e-mailed Chancellor Yang personally.

“I am saddened and shocked to hear that my alma mater will be shuttering the ESS Dept.,” he said. “It was the Sport Management Program and its dynamic staff that properly prepared me for a career in professional sports and life after college. Although I majored in Political Science, it was the ESS Dept. and its professors that gave me the life skills necessary to survive and succeed as a professional in a highly competitive industry. It seems that my donations and tuition to the university, and those of other graduates of the Sport Management Program, have not been properly managed or distributed to the department that directly influenced our development at UCSB.”

Yang replied by explaining the closure in more detail, and describing why he and the university feel it to be necessary.

“I want to share with you that the campus decision to take steps to discontinue the ESS minors was not made lightly or arbitrarily,” the chancellor said. ” It is the result of a nearly two-year process of review of the academic elements of ESS that included a departmental self-study, assessment of the program by a visiting External Review Committee, and review by councils and committees of the campus Academic Senate, especially the Undergraduate Council. This process culminated in a report to the Dean of Social Sciences by a campus Ad Hoc Department Review Committee. The executive vice chancellor and the dean, after reviewing the report, determined that with the unprecedented budget difficulties the campus is experiencing and with many competing core university priorities, there were insufficient resources to address the basic issues raised during the review and that are necessary to offer an academic program in ESS at the level we expect of all of our academic programs.”

A 2006 alumnus also e-mailed Chancellor Yang, as well as Vice Chancellor Lucas and Dean Oliver:

“The ESS department provides an incredible opportunity for UCSB students, whether they are just receiving the education for their own personal improvement or planning to start a career in athletics,” he said. “When I was in the program, I remember all the students talking about how it should be offered as a major, not only a minor. I was shocked to hear that it now may be eliminated entirely! I believe this will not only remove a major selling point for recruiting quality student athletes… which is already difficult enough at UCSB… but will also eliminate an incredible program for all students.”

A 2002 graduate made it very clear to Yang and several other administrators the impact that this closure would have on prospective students.

“The ESS program was one of the key reasons I attended UCSB over other California schools, particularly USC,” she said. “Interested in sports, I thought USC’s involvement and success in the PAC-10 was very enticing, yet I chose UCSB because I knew this unique Sport Management minor would quench my thirst for anything and everything sports-related. I was a communications major and sport management minor during my four incredible years at UCSB. In that time, I experienced so much more than I ever could have at USC or any other major California university, and I credit much of that to the ESS Dept.

“One of my favorite memories was when I spoke one-on-one for almost an hour with former Lakers player, Kurt Rambus. I remember he told me how much he admired the Sport Management minor that UCSB offered, even mentioning he wished it was available to him when he was in college.”

And while there is virtually no end to the responses Ferrer has gotten in support of ESS, the unifying factor among all of them is a desire to help the department and reverse the university’s decision. From San Marcos High School’s athletics program to the UCLA Basketball coaching staff, there are many supporters of ESS’s cause. The question looming, though, remains: Will their support be enough?

The Daily Nexus welcomes your thoughts and opinions on the ESS Dept.’s impending closure, and encourages those interested to write to with their take.