Chancellor’s statement on continuation of sports teams

Dear Campus Community:

Three athletic teams at UC Berkeley slated to cease intercollegiate competition at the end of this academic year – women’s lacrosse, women’s gymnastics and rugby – will be preserved, campus officials announced Friday.
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We are very pleased to announce today that Men’s Rugby, Women’s Gymnastics and Women’s Lacrosse will continue as Intercollegiate Varsity sports at Cal.  Thanks to the efforts, commitment and generosity of our donors, we are able to retain these sports at the Varsity level while still meeting our goal of reducing annual support to Intercollegiate Athletics to $5 million or less by 2014.

The continuing financial challenges facing the University of California have led us to make a number of very difficult decisions, including planning to eliminate five Intercollegiate Athletics sports by the end of this academic year.  Because of the strong response of team supporters, we agreed to keep open the possibility of reviewing this decision to the end of January 31, 2011, if additional philanthropy could be found to make the programs self-supporting over the long term.  The requirements for continuation called for philanthropic commitments to ensure that the teams would be self-funding for seven to 10 years while a plan is built to secure long term funding that would fund expenses, both direct and indirect, in perpetuity.  These commitments would be incremental to goals currently in place for the major campaign to retrofit Memorial Stadium.

A number of donors have come forward to help sustain the costs of Women’s Gymnastics and Women’s Lacrosse.  These are net costs which take into account the difference in the number of scholarships required depending upon how Title IX is satisfied.  By offering all of our women’s sports, we can meet the requirements of Title IX in a way that will allow the return of men’s sports, provided that the returned sports can cover all direct and indirect costs, including those of support programs and use of facilities.  Rugby has raised significant funds providing a clear pathway to covering its own full costs as well as contributing to the stabilization of the women’s programs.  In the best of Cal sports tradition, with this solution, we have a win for both our men and women student-athletes.

Regrettably, in spite of the best efforts of a number of their key supporters, Men’s Baseball and Men’s Gymnastics fell far short of raising the necessary philanthropic support.  Accordingly, students and staff associated with these teams must now be allowed to move forward to make other plans as these teams will cease competition as intercollegiate Varsity sports for the university at the end of this academic year.

Robert J. Birgeneau