Posted by Sharon Schendel on Feb 25, 2018
John David Wicker, now in his second year as Athletic Director for San Diego State University, was our speaker at the February 22, 2018 meeting.  He began by highlighting the increasing success of SDSU athletic teams. The football team completed its third consecutive 10+-win season, and the 2017 Armed Forces bowl was their eighth consecutive bowl appearance. The men’s basketball team played in the NCAA tournament 11 of the last 12 years, and SDSU teams collected 37 Mountain West conference championships in the past five academic years.
Mr. Wicker noted that SDSU takes a three-armed approach to ensure the overall success of its athletes. In addition to helping athletes achieve the highest degree of athletic performance, the athletics department works closely with SDSU faculty and staff to help student athletes maintain high academic standards and gain skills they need to succeed upon graduation. 
This approach is succeeding- SDSU athletes have a 97% four-year graduation rate and 61% are designated as scholar athletes by maintaining at least a 3.0 GPA over two years. The SDSU Going Pro program begins when freshmen athletes receive training in time management, financial literacy, media interactions, and sexual assault prevention. In subsequent years the programs expand to include leadership training, resume writing, and career fairs. 
Another important issue facing Mr. Wicker’s department is plans for the Mission Valley campus, which would take over the site now occupied by Qualcomm Stadium (now SDCCU Stadium). He outlined the SDSU vision for the site, which seeks to incorporate a college feel while respecting natural features, primarily the San Diego River and Murphy Canyon Creek (a source of flooding in the stadium area). Meanwhile, the plan addresses public concerns, such as maintaining a regional asset, capitalizing on the strong alumni support in the area, minimizing reliance on tax payer funding, and mitigating traffic impacts. 
In the SDSU plan, over half of the ~75 acre site is devoted to parkland, along with 16 acres of playing surface, an aquatics center, 8 acres of below-grade parking, and extensive hiking and biking trails. The site would also include a 35,000 seat stadium with the potential to expand to meet capacity for an NFL team, a hotel, and retail outlets geared to serving the market rate and affordable housing units planned for the site. Overall, the SDSU vision for the site is to create green space that engages the river while allowing the land-locked university to expand its capacity to supply additional educational opportunities for San Diego residents. 
The SDSU plan will go up against a plan put forth by private developers, SoccerCity, in an initiative that will appear on the November ballot.  Thank you to member Larry Cook for arranging to have Mr. Wicker present to our club.