One hundred and sixty-three athletes can now join the ranks of angry Cal students who feel they are getting less for more out of their UC education. Chancellor Robert Birgeneau announced on Tuesday a drastic trimming of the UC Berkeley Athletic Department. As of the next school year, intercollegiate women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s gymnastics, baseball, and rugby (both male teams) will be relics of the school’s history.
In his letter to the campus community, Birgeneau states that the rising cost of Intercollegiate Athletics is unsustainable when the university faces major budget cuts. The elimination of five team sports — representing one-fifth of student athletes — and thirteen coaches will save the department $4 million in the first year, according to UC Berkeley. “Other support positions may be eliminated or reassigned as well.” Over the summer Cal Athletics eliminated 21 positions.
UC Berkeley states that it used several factors including competitive success, donor impact, and student diversity to determine which programs to eliminate.
Athletic cuts have been expected since an advisory commission appointed by Birgeneau to assess the department’s fiscal sustainability released its findings in July. The budget for intercollegiate athletics, it noted, has swelled, “while the rest of the campus has … cut deeply into the bone of academic staff and program.”
Still, athletes and their coaches only found out Tuesday morning, and the news came as a shock, according to women’s lacrosse team captain Allie Shropshire. “It’s hard not to be angry,” she told the Express.
The $321 million football stadium and athletic center currently under construction does not make the news sit any better. “When I was recruited to come, they told me the high performance center was going to be done when I was a junior,” she said. But after the delays and now the cuts, Shropshire asks how many athletes will even get to use it “if you keep cutting sports?”