Cal Killed Rugby After Coach Offered to Fund Women’s Team

Over the past 72 hours, we’ve seen a lot of talk about the cuts at UC Berkeley. And one comment that we’ve seen over and over again goes something like this: Title IX didn’t cause the budget pressure that led to the cut of the five varsity programs at the school.

And that’s true, Title IX didn’t lead to the budget problems at Cal. Then again, there shouldn’t be any doubt that Title IX directly influenced what sports got cut — and that’s obviously the case with men’s rugby, a fully-funded program that boasts 25 national championships. Here’s John Crumpacker from the San Francisco Chronicle:

Clark said he proposed to Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and athletic director Sandy Barbour that women’s rugby at Cal, now a club sport, be elevated to varsity status and compete on the NCAA level. He said his rugby program would fund women’s rugby to help increase the numbers of female varsity athletes on campus and help balance the male-female numbers.

Instead, the most successful sports team in school history was sacrificed in the name of Title IX compliance, victim of a literal numbers game.

I’ve been reading a lot of the reaction over the past few days, and it’s impossible to overestimate just how much anger this decision has caused. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Both the baseball and men’s rugby teams are promising not to go down without a fight.

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