Faculty Committee at UC Berkeley Recommends Cutting 5-7 Sports

Over the past few months, we’ve been following events at UC Berkeley very closely as a series of faculty committees worked to address the budget deficit in the school’s athletic department. Back in July, one committee suggested that the department slash $6 million from its budget, but do it without eliminating any teams. Now, news leaked out last night that yet another committee has called on the department to cut anywhere between 5-7 teams.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The 15-page report, a copy of which was obtained by The Chronicle, was produced by the Chancellor’s Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics at Berkeley, composed of four members of the Berkeley faculty and four prominent alumni. It is in fundamental agreement with a recent Academic Senate review of the athletic department, which found that expenses are greater than revenues.

“The level of campus funding necessary to fill that gap is larger than the campus should bear,” according to the report.

While commending athletic director Sandy Barbour for “producing an environment of athletic success” and improving the academic standing of athletes, the chancellor’s committee noted that her department has built up “unsustainable debt” and said she “needs to make immediate and meaningful changes in managing the costs and budget.”

Our interest in the situation at Berkeley is pretty simple: Given the current state of the school’s athletic department and the use of proportionality to prove compliance with Title IX, simple mathematics dictates that the lion’s share of any cuts fall upon men’s teams — an eventuality that the Chronicle points out in today’s story:

If five to seven teams are eliminated and some of the cuts were to women’s sports, that could impact Cal’s compliance with Title IX, the federal law mandating that educational institutions receiving federal funding provide equal opportunities for all students.

The story is also of great interest to the sport of men’s gymnastics. The sport is down to only 17 teams nationwide. If UC Berkeley were to cut men’s gymnastics, it would isolate Stanford University as the only NCAA men’s gymnastics program on the entire West Coast. Without the program at Berkeley, Stanford’s closest geographical rival in the sport would be the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs over 1,000 miles away.

UPDATE: Over at Title IX Blog, Kristine Newhall concurs with the conclusion we came to months ago:

My initial, quick glance at the EADA data told me that Cal does not use proportionality to demonstrate compliance with accommodation of interests and abilities. That I could discern this from such a quick glance is not good. I don’t know if Cal is adhering to prong two or three at this point, but when/if they cut sports, proportionality will be their only option.

In other words, if you’re a male athlete at Cal and you play a sport that loses money, you might want to start looking at transfer options.

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