Cost Cuts Lead to Elimination of Selected Team Sports
The University of California at Berkeley has announced that it will eliminate five varsity sports, including baseball, after this school year as part of an effort to substantially reduce the university’s subsidization of its athletics program.
Two separate university task forces examined UC Berkeley’s athletics program and each independently came to the conclusion that UC has to significantly reduce its financial support for athletics.
UC Berkeley will reduce the number of competitive intercollegiate sport teams from 29 to 24 to reduce overall spending for athletics. In 2009-2010 athletics funding was between $12 and $13 million dollars. The cuts according to Chancellor Robert Birgeneau are based on the fact that the university is not in a position to sustain the rising level of spending on athletics at a time when state budget cuts to university funding affect all faculty, staff and students. The University says that eliminating the five sport programs is projected to save $4 to 5 million in 2011-12.
Along with baseball, other programs being eliminated include men’s and women’s gymnastics, as well as women’s lacrosse. Men’s rugby will be designated as a “varsity club” sport. The elimination will have an immediate impact on 133 of UC Berkeley’s 800-plus athletes: 8 in baseball, 19 in men’s gymnastics, 15 in women’s gymnastics, 30 in women’s lacrosse and 61 in men’s rugby, as well as 13 full-time coaches.
The current economic conditions are forcing schools across the country to take a hard look at what they are spending on athletics.
Continued budget cuts are adding financial pressure on schools and athletic programs to get athletic spending under control. Universities should seek to develop a financial model that is sustainable for athletic programs. In the end, the economic downturn and state budget cuts will force universities to make difficult decisions about funding for sport programs and which sports to retain.
UC Berkeley remains committed to the impacted teams and players through this academic year by honoring the scholarships for the affected students choosing to stay at UC Berkeley. They will provide assistance to any athlete wanting to transfer to another school to continue his or her academic and athletic pursuits. In accordance with NCAA rules, students who transfer because their athletic program was eliminated can compete immediately and will not sit out a season. Additionally, UC Berkeley is committed to assisting those employees affected by the changes. Each employee will access and receive the full range of support services from UC Berkeley’s Department of Human Resources, which includes job search assistance, employee relations specialists and access to counseling services.
Dr. Cromartie is the Dean of Academic Affairs and Director of Doctoral Studies at the United States Sports Academy.