Getting Down to Business: How the Triton Business Staff is Collaborating With Its UC Counterparts
LA JOLLA, Calif. – Despite competition among the athletics teams of the University of California system, the UC San Diego Athletics Department business staff views its counterparts as collaborators. They recently collaborated with their peers by traveling to UCLA and UC Irvine in order to hold meetings, receiving and sharing ideas with the other business staffs.
The concept is not a new one for the Tritons, as they have traveled to meet with the business staffs at UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside in prior years, and it is one that they have continued as it has proved to be useful. Heather Ledezma, the UC San Diego Athletics Director of Business Operations, explained why the Tritons reach out to meet with their counterparts.
“It’s been really helpful, collaborating with the other UC schools,” said Ledezma. “There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. It’s also important to see what the transition to Division I means and the operating needs from a business aspect.”
Ledezma shared that one reason in particular why the meetings have been helpful is that the UC system is currently experiencing significant changes to its business operations. Among these changes is UC Path, which is a new personnel system that the UC schools are implementing.
“Different campuses are going live with UC Path at different times, and UCLA is one of the campuses close to us that has already gone live,” Ledezma noted. “That was part of the impetus to go up and see what those changes look like, in order to see how it has affected them and to talk about what we can do to prepare ourselves a little better for that.”
Aside from the recent changes that they are undergoing, the business staffs also discussed how they handle day-to-day operations. It was an eye-opening experience, as the Tritons learned ways to improve their efficiency while also sharing advice of their own. One of the biggest takeaways for UC San Diego was how UCLA distributes payments to their game event staff.
“They pay all of their game event staff through a third-party vendor which we utilize for all of our payments to officials, but we never thought to use them for game management staff,” Ledezma explained. “That has been a huge growth area for us in the last year with the addition of our production suite and broadcasting for ESPN3. We struggled with how to manage that size because as soon as we bring people on as employees, there is a whole host of other things that come with it, so seeing a different option could be really beneficial for us.”
Among the advice the Tritons shared with the UCLA and UC Irvine business staffs was their credit card usage. The help was well-received, as the counterparts reached out to the UC San Diego staff for further information after the meetings.
“Different areas of their business offices have already contacted us to follow up about some things because they were really intrigued with how we pay for things,” Ledezma said. “I think we have the most comprehensive credit card program here. We are able to pay for a lot of things with various credit cards, whereas the other UC schools don’t have that ability, so they’re going to look into those things to make their lives easier.”
After meeting with the other UC business staffs and exchanging advice, Ledezma feels that the Tritons are on track as they look towards the future, particularly with the move to Division I on the horizon.
“I’m really confident with us handling the transition to Division I,” Ledezma stated. “We’ve planned for it for quite a while now, so we have solid projections in place of when we are bringing certain positions on and what our scholarships and funds will look like with the transitions.”
As for the meetings, Ledezma hopes that they are something that will continue in the future.
“I think we’ll definitely have another visit with UCLA again as we pick apart what our last meeting was and maybe go back and dive into specific areas where we have concerns,” Ledezma said. “I would love to do as many of these as possible.”
About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country. The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference. UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent. A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 36 have earned prestigious NCAA Post Graduate Scholarships. In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.
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