Cal to eliminate five sports teams to cut costs
BERKELEY – In its latest move to cut costs, the University of California, Berkeley, is eliminating five of its intercollegiate sports programs, including its championship men’s rugby team, officials said Tuesday.
Cal’s baseball, men’s and women’s gymnastics, and women’s lacrosse teams will no longer represent the university in intercollegiate competition after this academic year, officials said.
The men’s rugby team, which has won 25 national championships since 1980, will move into a new category called “varsity club sport,” which officials say will allow the team to continue playing and competing on campus but become financially self-sustaining.
Reducing the number of intercollegiate teams from 29 to 24 will save an estimated $4 million a year and affect 163 of the school’s more than 800 student-athletes, as well as 13 full-time coaches.
After the teams are eliminated, the university will continue to honor promised scholarships to the affected students or help them transfer to other schools if they want to pursue their athletic careers, officials said.
UC Berkeley administrators said they decided to cut the five teams after considering a variety of factors, including cost, student diversity, impact on donations and compliance with Title IX, the federal law that requires gender equity in school sports and other activities.
“Clearly, this is a painful outcome after months of deliberations, analysis and the examination of every viable alternative,” UC Berkeley director of athletics Sandy Barbour said in a statement. “I deeply regret the impact this will have on so many valued members of our community.”
UC Berkeley is the latest public university in California to cut sports teams after the state slashed funding to higher education to close its massive budget deficit.
In April, UC Davis announced it was eliminating four of its 27 intercollegiate sports programs – women’s rowing, men’s wrestling, men’s swimming and diving, and men’s indoor track and field – this academic year. Those program cuts affected about 150 students and seven coaches.
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