Professor in Profile: Jim Romeo


Oscar Cortez
Staff Writer

Professor Romeo is the advisor for the Sports Management minor in the Exercise and Sports Studies (ESS) department and teaches, Applied Kinesiology, Current Issues in Sports and Athletic Injuries

Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up, where did you go to school?
“I was born in Brooklyn, New York. I did my undergraduate work at Long Island University in Brooklyn and I went to graduate school in Springfield College in Massachusetts. I played basketball for several years in Europe. I came to Santa Barbara in 1979 for work, plus I had vacationed a few times here in California and just loved it. I looked to relocate out here with my wife, we had just gotten married, and we were able to do so at that time. I started working at the university then and I’ve been here since June of 1980. I’ve loved it. It’s been a wonderful, wonderful experience and career.”

Tell us about your career at UCSB
“When I was hired, intercollegiate athletics included recreation, intramurals, and at that time what was called physical activities, which has since evolved to be Exercise and Sports Studies. Early on in my time here at UCSB I moved into a combination of administrative responsibilities and teaching. Eventually my administrative responsibilities progressed through Assistant Athletic Director, Associate Athletic Director and eventually Athletic Director. I was the Athletic Director here for a couple of years in the mid 90’s, from ‘93-’95. At that point I went back into teaching, left administration entirely and part of it was because ESS was able to expand our class offerings and expand from one minor to four. We used to just have a minor in coaching but it expanded to three additional minors: sport management, health and exercise science and fitness. I became the advisor for the Sports Management minor in 1995 and I continued to be the sport management advisor and a lecturer in three classes within our overall minors program [up until now]. I don’t know if you’re interested in those classes but I’ve been teaching those three classes, actually two of them for thirty years, one of them for the last fifteen. Again, I would say it’s been absolutely wonderful, I loved being here, I loved all the different experiences I’ve had administratively and academically.”

How do you stay in shape? Do you still participate in any sports, either competitively or as a hobby?
“Cycling, I ride my bike a great deal. I don’t compete in it but I ride it, it’s my mode of transportation in fact. I don’t have a car so I use my bike to get to school and back and I ride it all the time.

Are there any specific workouts, systems, or exercises that you particularly practice?
“I do some calisthenics, push-ups and sit-ups, and I do some balancing, some core stuff. The two classes I teach are kinesiology and care and prevention of athletic injuries and both of those address those areas, those issues.”

UCSB is primarily known for being a soccer and basketball school. What other sports does it excel at or should be known for?
“Well again, that’s a great question and I’m delighted to have a chance to answer this. We’ve got a swim program here that has had enormous success not just athletically but academically. We’ve had numerous academic All-Americans come through it and their annual team GPA is extraordinary. I think that’s really notable and there are individuals who have come out of that program… numerous physicians, engineers, architects, and part of what they would attribute their success to in their college experience is having been part of the swim program, I mean that’s huge, and that sort of quietly moves along! Our women’s cross country team, I’ve had a number of their athletes, these are some of the most impressive individuals I’ve come across in my 31 years here at UCSB, these are great kids, great kids who are doing great things, quietly, and we’re not giving them some of the attention we are seeing in basketball or soccer. I love those coaches and those student athletes because they are doing good work without necessarily having it distorted in some way because of the light that is shined on them. They are doing all the right things.”

What is the ESS minor program? What kind of students/majors is it for? What careers does it prepare them for?
“The students come from probably the whole range of interests that the university contains. There are students who take these classes purely for their own interest and enjoyment and have no intent on going further with this subject matter but there are students who take our classes with a tremendous commitment to going further in these various areas. For example, there are a lot of students over the years that I’ve had who take my kinesiology class and my athletic injuries class who go on to careers in physical therapy, chiropractic, athletic training, etc. On the sport management side it’s equally amazing how many students have gone on into graduate programs in sport management as well as entry-level positions in the field of sports management both intercollegiately and professionally. I’m sure Ferrar (see online) gave you a lot of detail on the positions that we have alumni from our program involved in. It’s astonishing how incredibly involved they are in intercollegiate athletics and professional athletics on the administrative side of it, it’s really quite extraordinary. Our little academic minor has produced some incredibly successful people in those respective fields.”

What is happening to the your department?
“Well the current state as far as we understand it is that there is a very strong possibility that our program could be discontinued as of June, this year. One of the things that has already happened is that all four of the academic minors in the ESS department are being discontinued after this academic quarter so there will no longer be any academic minors coming out of ESS. We are hopeful that we’ll be able to continue offering some of our classes beyond June but that decision is yet to be made. We’re obviously hoping for a positive decision but the big underlying issue here is the budget. As you may know, back in January the governor proposed a budget that reflected a $500 million cut to the University of California system, which is a staggering number. I understand UCSB’s responsibility in that cut was $55 million. The university has been going through all sorts of contortions and tremendous stresses to try and resolve that. More recently, as a result of part of the governor’s budget seemingly not coming about, specifically some existing taxes, sales tax, vehicle taxes, that doesn’t look like they’ll be continued past June 2011, that’s going to result in even more cuts. The Nexus had an article which talked about an additional $500 million cut to the UC system so it would be a total of a billion dollars in cuts to the UCs, so it seems as if the likely impact at UCSB is another $50 million dollars. I don’t know how that’s going to be resolved. I don’t know how UCSB is going to be able to do that and I don’t how the UC system is going to be able to reconcile these kinds of devastating cuts. It’s really a sad thing, I’ve been here 31 years and for me to look at what’s going on to the University of California and in particular to UCSB is very sad. The fee increases have been tremendous the last few years, as I understand it, they’re anticipated to go up 25% next year and that’s before this additional cut possibility. So it’s possible we are going to see tremendous fee increases. And the bottom-line, coming back around again to what I was just saying, it’s very possible our program will be eliminated. So it’s a very volatile, tumultuous time at UCSB and personally very sad because I love what I do, as I’ve said earlier I love being here. For all the years I’ve been here I think I’m teaching better than I’ve ever done before and it’s very possible that it could come to an end in a couple of months.”

What is your final remark with the situation UCSB is in with fees, budget cuts and even whole department cuts?
“It’s a very volatile, tumultuous time at UCSB and personally very sad because I love what I do, as I’ve said earlier I love being here. For all the years I’ve been here I think I’m teaching better than I’ve ever done before and it’s very possible that it could come to an end in a couple of months.”

Sports: “College basketball mostly.”
College teams: “UCSB and UCLA basketball.”
Athletes: “Machael David and Waid Ibrahim, on UCSB’s soccer team. I like them both a lot.”
Authors: “E. L. Doctorow”
Books: “Anything by Hemingway.”
Movies: “To Catch a Thief, Casablanca, Midnight Run, and the Godfather movies.”

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