UC San Diego Tritons baseball
UC San Diego Tritons baseball

Fields of Dreams: Generous Support for Student-Athletes

UC San Diego students have plenty to cheer about.

Dean Spanos, chairman of the board and president of the San Diego Chargers, pledged $500,000 for a new athletic performance center, while the campus also completed the new Triton Ballpark, thanks to generous community donors and alumni. Both new facilities will benefit UC San Diego student-athletes as well as the entire campus and local community.

UC San Diego Athletics consistently ranks as the top NCAA Division II program in the nation, according to the National Collegiate Scouting Association. Over the years, the Tritons have garnered 30 national championships in eight different team sports and 138 individual national championships. Yet, their prowess extends beyond the court and field. The average UC San Diego student-athlete GPA meets or exceeds that of the student body at-large; consistently, more than 55 percent of student-athletes record GPAs of 3.0 or higher, placing them on the Athletics Director’s Honor Roll.

The generous gift from Dean Spanos to support UC San Diego Athletics will provide funding for the expansion of the existing Alex G. Spanos Training Facility, which will be renamed the Alex G. Spanos Athletic Performance Center, in honor of Dean’s father. The new center, overlooking Triton Track and Field Stadium, will include a strength and conditioning area, outdoor performance plaza, and athletics training room for student-athletes. The additional space, with improved access to campus weight-training equipment, will benefit all students.

Ballpark groundbreaking
Jim Morris (left), chair and cofounder of the UC San Diego Athletics Board, and Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla at the Triton Ballpark groundbreaking

Although they no longer practice on campus, for many years the San Diego Chargers had an agreement to hold their annual summer training camp at UC San Diego. In 1988, Chargers owner Alex Spanos offered to construct and donate a locker room and training facility in the north campus recreation area—an in-kind donation that was valued at $1.1 million. With gifts totaling $1.6 million since 1976, the Spanos family has given more to the intercollegiate athletics program than any family or single donor.

UC San Diego does not have a football team, but its intercollegiate baseball program is one of the most successful in NCAA Division II. Yet, the players competed on a field without the basic amenities that many of their competitors take for granted—from showers to permanent restroom facilities. Lead donors supporting the new Triton Ballpark—including Bill Scripps; Gary Jacobs, ’79; John Moores; Malin Burnham; and Richard Atkinson, UC San Diego’s fifth chancellor—have changed that.

The state-of-the-art facility includes sunken team dugouts, a press box, an area for food trucks, restroom facilities, permanent spectator seating, and the Marye Anne Fox Clubhouse, named for UC San Diego’s seventh chancellor. Two award-winning architectural firms, Gensler and Populous, worked on the ballpark’s design. Populous helped create Petco Park, which is home to the San Diego Padres.