Base­ball is among sports cut by Cal

Los Angeles Times - - Morning Briefing - Bax­ter Holmes bax­ter.holmes@latimes.com

Cit­ing the eco­nomic down­turn and de­creased state fund­ing, the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia an­nounced Tues­day that it will elim­i­nate four var­sity sports pro­grams — in­clud­ing base­ball — at the end of the 2011 aca­demic year.

Men’s and women’s gym­nas­tics and women’s lacrosse also will be cut, and the men’s rugby team will be re­duced to a club sport.

“Clearly, this is a painful out­come af­ter months of de­lib­er­a­tion, anal­y­sis, and the ex­am­i­na­tion of ev­ery vi­able al­ter­na­tive,” Ath­letic Di­rec­tor Sandy Bar­bour said in a state­ment re­leased by the uni­ver­sity. “I deeply re­gret the im­pact this will have on so many val­ued mem­bers of our com­mu­nity.”

The ath­letic depart­ment has been over bud­get by $10 mil­lion to $13 mil­lion for sev­eral years, prompt­ing a year-long process that eval­u­ated teams based on cost, stu­dent di­ver­sity, im­pact on do­na­tions and com­pli­ance with Ti­tle IX.

The de­ci­sion af­fects 13 full-time coaches and 163 of the school’s 814 ath­letes. It also re­duces the num­ber of ath­letic teams from 29 to 24.

The school said it would honor cur­rent ath­letic schol­ar­ships and as­sist ath­letes who wish to trans­fer. The ath­letes will be im­me­di­ately el­i­gi­ble to com­pete, as per NCAA rules, given that their teams were ter­mi­nated.

The cuts are ex­pected to re­sult in an an­nual sav­ings of $4 mil­lion be­gin­ning in the next fis­cal year.

Pa­cific 10 Con­fer­ence Com­mis­sioner Larry Scott said in a state­ment that Cal’s de­ci­sion high­lights the fi­nan­cial pres­sures at schools and “re­in­forces the im­por­tance for our con­fer­ence to con­tinue an ag­gres­sive ef­fort to in­crease sup­port and op­por­tu­ni­ties for our schools and stu­den­tath­letes in the fu­ture.”

Cal’s base­ball team, founded in 1892, played in an NCAA re­gional last sea­son. It has won two na­tional ti­tles and made five trips to the Col­lege World Se­ries.

Devin Ro­driguez, a sopho­more first base­man who played at Ne­whall Hart High, said most of the play­ers have com­mit­ted to play a fi­nal sea­son for Cal next spring, and will use the de­ci­sion as mo­ti­va­tion.

“We talked about it as a team: Just go out with a bang, prove them wrong for cut­ting the pro­gram,” Ro­driguez said.

The men’s rugby team had won 25 na­tional cham­pi­onships since 1980.

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