Ed Bedford 11:44 p.m., June 19
For Piece of the Action, UCSD Hypes the Chargers (Updated)
It may seem like a strange alliance to some, but state-run UCSD Health System, the hospital giant expected to gross some $900 million this year, is helping to market the San Diego Chargers to women in exchange for a piece of the financial action.
"The San Diego Chargers and UC San Diego Health System have teamed up to create the Lightning Ladies, the Official Chargers Fan Club designed and created with the female fan in mind," says the Chargers' website.
"Members will receive a VIP Membership Kit complete with high quality merchandise, team store discounts and more."
“The Lightning Ladies is a perfect club for fans who love the Chargers and who can appreciate the health benefits of sports, physical fitness and a good dose of competition,” Tom Jackiewicz, UCSD health system CEO, said in a statement.
“UCSD invites everyone to join a roster of top fans and looks forward to the first game of the season.”
Last December, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Jackiewicz, who makes $600,000 a year in his job as as a UCSD associate vice chancellor, was among a group of three dozen of UC's highest paid executives who threatened to sue the state unless the board of regents backed off a pension cap that the university said was needed to limit its unfunded pension liability.
"We believe it is the university's legal, moral and ethical obligation" to increase the benefits for employees earning more than $245,000, said a letter to the regents signed by the executives. "Failure to do so will likely result in a costly and unsuccessful legal confrontation."
The move was opposed by UC President Mark Yudof and Russell Gould, chairman of the Board of Regents, and drew harsh editorial and legislative criticism from across the state, with the L.A. Times observing in January:
"All around these executives, public employees are being laid off, furloughed or otherwise expected to get more done with less compensation; UC's students increasingly come from households in which one or both parents have lost a job.
"The letter writers are not the heads of profit-oriented corporations but of a public institution with a noble mission. Their tone-deafness shows that when it comes to doing the right thing, it's not the regents who are lacking."
In the end, the executives backed down.
The Lightning Ladies membership price of $50, plus $6.99 "shipping and handling," includes an official "Beach Tote, Women's T-shirt, Hat, Flip Flops," and "UC San Diego Health System Tumbler," along with a 15 percent discount on other Chargers goods and a monthly raffle.
"Lightning Ladies also provides a forum to stay involved with the team and each other through Facebook, Twitter, special events and more," says the site.
How much of the money will be split with UCSD?
According to the site: "A portion of all proceeds will benefit the UC San Diego Health System Development," and "as part of the UC San Diego Health System and the Charger’s commitment to women’s health, 5% of your membership fee will go to the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign."
Update: Doug Carnahan, Manager of Corporate Partnerships for the Chargers, emailed us today, August 9, to say that the "2nd paragraph on the home page of the Lightning Ladies website mentioning UC San Diego Development receiving a portion the proceeds," was "a typographical error" and "the typo has been corrected."
"UC San Diego Health System is a sponsor of the Lightning Ladies program and do not financially benefit whatsoever."