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UC San Diego‘s Academic Senate approved the move of Tritons athletics to Division I of the NCAA, clearing another hurdle along the path toward becoming the third such program in the region, school officials announced Thursday.

The Academic Senate — comprised of professors, lecturers, select administrators and other academic staff — conducted a months-long investigative process that included reports from five different committees.

The faculty decision followed a vote by students last May to raise fees to support the transition from Division II. The school will not field a football team.

“We are pleased both students and faculty have reached the same consensus that UC San Diego is poised to become a Division I campus,” said Chancellor Pradeep Khosla.

“In UC San Diego’s short history, the campus has grown to become a world leader in education, research and patient care,” Khosla said. “The collective votes by both students and faculty demonstrate UC San Diego’s continued growth and trajectory as one of the globe’s most influential universities.”

UCSD consistently ranks highly in lists of top universities in the U.S. and the world, but the reality is that a school often receives its greatest visibility and identity on the courts and fields.

Triton sports have generally been very competitive in Division II over the years, including three straight national championships and three appearances in the finals in women’s soccer.

UCSD envisions joining the Big West conference, which includes four other UC schools. If the league extends an invitation, it would prompt the additional student fee to kick in during the fall quarter of the next academic year, with a portion funding student-athlete scholarships.

San Diego State University and the University of San Diego compete in Division I athletics, while Cal State San Marcos recently moved to Division II. Point Loma Nazarene University also competes in Division II.

–City News Service