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UC Berkeley Intercollegiate Athletics FAQ

Frequently asked questions about Intercollegiate Athletics at UC Berkeley.

1. Which sports are being discontinued and how were they determined?

The sports of baseball, men’s and women’s gymnastics, and women’s lacrosse will be discontinued after their 2010-11 seasons. In addition, one team, men’s rugby, will transition to the newly designated tier of varsity club.

The decision to eliminate these athletic programs came after a careful analysis that looked at a wide range of criteria, including:

  • Financial impact
  • History of competitive success
  • Ability to comply with Title IX and the principles of gender equity
  • Donor impact
  • Opportunities for NCAA and Pac-10 success
  • Contributions to student-athlete diversity
  • Student-athlete opportunities
  • Utilization of support services
  • Contributions to the Directors’ Cup
  • Contributions to the Athletic Department mission
  • Prevalence of local and regional varsity competition

Affected sports will continue as intercollegiate athletics programs through the completion of their 2010-11 seasons.

For more information on men’s rugby and varsity club programs, as well as for compliance factors regarding Title IX, see additional information below.

2. What are the circumstances that led to the campus taking this action at this time?

In the context of current economic conditions and a dramatic reduction in the amount of funding the university receives from the state, Cal Athletics has required levels of institutional financial support that campus and department leadership believe to be unsustainable.

Developing a sustainable financial model for Intercollegiate Athletics has been a priority for the Chancellor since he arrived on campus in 2004. For several years now, the Athletic Department has been working with the central campus to develop a long-term financial model that would allow Cal Athletics to maintain a large and broad-based program. However, it became increasing evident that this unfortunate course of action would need to be implemented.

The university remains committed to a broad-based athletics program that is an integral and integrated part of the campus, upholds institutional values and generates benefits – both tangible and intangible – that more than justify continued campus support. The Chancellor’s Advisory Council and the Academic Senate’s Task Force also recognized the department’s role as an engine of philanthropy for the entire campus and the extent to which it promotes campus community spirit and enhances the relationship between the university and its alumni.

Cal is certainly not alone in this predicament in intercollegiate athletics. Many other schools across the country, including Arizona State and Washington in the Pac-10 Conference, have decreased the scope of their athletics departments within the last two years, while others have announced budget reductions and staff layoffs. A total of just 14 athletics programs among the 128 in the Football Bowl Subdivision of the NCAA reported positive net revenues for the 2009 fiscal year.

3. What other alternatives were considered?

Together with the Chancellor and members of his leadership team, the Athletic Department explored every reasonable option for the program’s future. Once the Chancellor determined that approximately $5 million in annual institutional support would be appropriate and sustainable, there emerged three possible options for Cal Athletics’ future, after taking in to account our moral and legal commitments to gender equity, plans to increase revenue and steps to contain costs.

The first option entailed extensive cuts across the board that would have damaged the competitive abilities of every single team and placed us on the path to comprehensive mediocrity and sub-standard support for our student-athletes. To maintain an acceptable level of support for a full 29 programs would have necessitated a significant endowment to generate the required amount of revenue. (Although commonly referred to as a 27-sport program, Cal currently has 29 teams when taking into account indoor and outdoor track & field.)

The second option would have called for a larger reduction in the number of teams, a completely unsatisfactory alternative given our conviction that the campus greatly benefits from a broad-based program.

The third and best option, the middle ground, is the one we selected, which features a hybrid, four-part strategy – 1. scope reduction; 2. cost reduction and containment; 3. reinvestment for revenue growth; and 4. greater revenue accountability by sport. It also includes several organizational changes within the department intended to put a greater emphasis on revenue generation.

4. Who is affected by these decisions?

While our entire community is affected by this plan, a total of 163 out of 814 student-athletes are directly impacted – baseball (38), men’s gymnastics (19), women’s gymnastics (15), women’s lacrosse (30) and men’s rugby (61).

A total of 13 paid coaching positions will be eliminated from Intercollegiate Athletics – five head coaches and eight assistant coaches – and the combined permanent savings from salaries and benefits will be approximately $1.1 million once all contractual obligations are met.

In addition, after a period of evaluation of department needs given the new sport alignment, other support positions may be eliminated or reassigned, as well. The evaluation process is ongoing, and while no timetable has been established, we anticipate clarity by the end of the academic year.

In an effort to save money heading into FY11, Cal Athletics earlier eliminated 21 positions within the department through a combination of layoffs, non-renewal of contracts, reorganization and elimination of vacant positions. These changes took effect on July 1, 2010, as a portion of a larger cut, and saved an estimated $900,000 in salary and benefits.

5. Will the department continue to receive an investment of resources from the campus?

By 2014, the campus will have reduced its annual investment in Cal Athletics to approximately $5 million. The figure, which came as a result of an analysis by the Athletic Department and campus administration, will be inclusive of student registration fees directed to Athletics and funds allocated by the Chancellor. This amounts to a significant percentage of total scholarship costs for the department. Operating independently, the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee and the Academic Senate’s Task Force came to the same conclusion that Cal Athletics was worthy of the support.

Cal Athletics will repay loans from the University that were used to cover the deficit incurred in the 2009 fiscal year. The financial plan announced Sept. 28 includes a schedule of repayment of the $5.6 million loan in yearly installments of $560,000; these payments have already begun.

6. What will happen to impacted student-athletes who want to remain at Cal?

The university will honor current scholarship levels for impacted student-athletes for a maximum of four years as students at UC Berkeley. Athletics will also assist any student-athletes who would like to transfer in order to continue their athletic pursuits elsewhere. Per NCAA rules, student-athletes who transfer because their athletic program has been eliminated will be able to compete immediately and will not have to sit out a season.

7. What is the financial impact of this plan?

The plan produces cost savings of $4 million in the first year and puts Athletics in a better position to control costs moving forward. Savings will not be realized until the new fiscal year, which begins on July 1, 2011. Additional organizational changes for the department include plans to contain costs and restrict future growth and place a greater emphasis and focus on earned revenue generation, in addition to steps already taken to reduce operating costs. By fiscal year 2014, we expect Cal Athletics revenues will have grown to approximately $69 million from $57 million in FY10, growth that takes into account expected funds from a new Pac-12 media contract, while expenses will rise to approximately $74 million from $69 million in FY10. The department will also receive $5 million in institutional support in FY14.

8. Which sports will the University continue to offer? How many public universities in the Football Bowl Subdivision have a larger program?

After these announced changes, the Athletic Department will continue to offer a diverse program committed to comprehensive excellence. Cal Athletics will move from a 29-sport program to a department that sponsors 24 intercollegiate athletics teams (11 men’s and 13 women’s), which is commensurate with other peer institutions. Only eight other public universities have athletics programs with more than 24 sports, including the University of Michigan (27), the University of Virginia (25) and the University of North Carolina (28).

Cal will offer programs in men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s crew, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s swimming & diving, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s indoor track & field, men’s and women’s outdoor track & field, volleyball, and men’s and women’s water polo.

Pac-10 Conference Sport Sponsorship
School Men’s Sports Women’s Sports Total Sports
Stanford 17 20 37
California 11 13 24
UCLA 11 13 24
Arizona State 9 12 21
Washington 10 11 21
Arizona 9 11 20
Oregon 8 11 19
USC 9 10 19
Oregon State 7 10 17
Washington State 7 10 17

Note: Considers indoor and outdoor track & field as separate sports; sources: institutional athletics websites and federal EADA reports

9. Have other sports been discontinued previously at Cal?

The decision to discontinue varsity sports is not unprecedented on campus. Other men’s sports to have previously held varsity designation include boxing, wrestling and volleyball. On the women’s side, fencing and badminton were dropped in 1982 five years after they were established.

10. The new plan calls for a continuation of significant institutional support. How does it compare with UC Berkeley’s peers?

According to the latest available figures from FY09, the median level of institutional support for schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision (largest NCAA schools) is approximately $10 million, while the median for Pac-10 institutions is approximately $6 million. By comparison, the Ivy League model requires $10-20 million of institutional support, and many of our other FBS private peers require support in the mid-$10 million range.

Sources: NCAA’s Revenue and Expense Report; IA independent research

11. How many staff does Cal Athletics currently have and what level of support will the department provide after these cuts are made?

Once the changes have been implemented, Athletics will have approximately 220 full-time staff.

Compared to its peers, especially in the Pac-10, Cal Athletics has been understaffed on a per student basis, ranking seventh in sports medicine staff, eighth in strength & conditioning coaches and 10th in total staff per student-athlete. For example, a formula compiled by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association suggests that Cal should have 18.5 full-time trainers for its student-athlete population; instead, Cal today has only 13.

After these sport reductions, the ratios will increase to more equitable levels, which will allow staff to devote more time, energy and guidance in many positions across the board and better support the student-athletes.

Rugby/Varsity Club Status FAQ

What does it mean for rugby now that it is moving to varsity club status?

As a varsity club sport, men’s rugby, currently the only program to have varsity status among more than 325 Division I schools, will continue to use Witter Rugby Field as its primary training and competition venue, as well as have its offices located in the Doc Hudson Field House. In the very near future, Athletics and university leadership look forward to working with members of the rugby program to address a plan to cover the support services they need to maintain their high level of success, including admissions, sports medicine and access to training facilities.

Varsity club sports will report to the office of the Vice Chancellor – Administration. We are committed to gender equity in this new tier and are evaluating which other sport or sports will fit this model. We expect that by the end of FY14, all varsity club sports will become entirely self-funding.

How will Witter Rugby Field be utilized?

Witter Rugby Field is a shared facility that is used for rugby practice and competition, football practice, Recreational Sports intramurals and sport clubs, and youth summer camps. We do not foresee a change in the existing field-use agreement. As part of the work needed to support the retrofit and renovation of Memorial Stadium, a temporary synthetic turf is being installed, primarily to provide the Cal football team a suitable site to practice while the stadium is unavailable (late November 2010 through August. 2012). Once the stadium reopens in 2012, grass will be reinstalled in time for the spring 2013 rugby season.

Title IX FAQ

Were Title IX implications considered and will Cal be in compliance?

The Athletic Department and the university both have a high commitment to gender equity and compliance with Title IX. In order to conform to the law, universities must meet one of three tests for participation – proportionality, history and continued practice of program expansion, and full accommodation of athletic interests and abilities. Based on these sport-reduction decisions, the university expects to be in Title IX compliance through the proportionality prong, which states that male-female participation numbers must be “substantially proportionate” to their respective full-time undergraduate enrollments. The current undergraduate gender ratio is 52.9 percent female and 47.1 percent male (Fall 2009). The university was previously in compliance by “fully and effectively” accommodating the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex.

Will other actions need to be taken to make Cal Title IX compliant, such as squad limits?

In order to meet the proportionality standard, the department will work with coaches to more closely manage squad sizes for its intercollegiate teams. Some teams will be allowed to increase their rosters, while others will have a reduction from current levels. Similar decisions will also be made regarding scholarship allocations.