Lacrosse Team Surprised by Elimination

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Women's Lacrosse Eliminated

Assistant Sports Editor Ed Yevelev discusses tthe cutting of Cal's  lacrosse team 

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Tori Harrison, a junior defender on the Cal women's lacrosse team, was in her 9:30 a.m. class on Tuesday when she received an e-mail from head coach Theresa Sherry.

Instead of a usual 11 a.m. practice, her coach had scheduled a team-wide meeting to discuss the squad's elimination following the 2011-2012 academic year.

"People are still absorbing," Harrison said. "My reaction is shock. I've devoted the past seven years of my life (to lacrosse). I got other offers for lacrosse and basketball, but ... Cal was my dream school."

A native of Austin, Texas, Harrison had her sights set on the Bay Area early on in high school, having attended a skills camp the summer after freshman year. She is one of 18 team members who pay the majority their own out-of-state tuition. The 30-player squad equally divides up $45,000 in annual scholarship money.

The sport's annual operating budget stands at $175,000, and its $105,000 coaching salary includes an assistant who is working at 50-percent pay, Sherry says.

"For how little our budget is, and my staff is not even close to being paid what other assistants are being paid on this campus," Sherry said, "and our low scholarships, it didn't make sense for us to be cut."

In just its 12th year of varsity status, the team may have been targeted by virtue of being the newest team on campus, according to Sherry. The fourth year head coach also felt that the athletic department overlooked lacrosse's growing popularity.

Along with Stanford, Cal has helped to pave the West Coast emergence for a traditionally East Coast-dominated sport. The Bears' seven-team MPSF conference receives an NCAA Automatic Qualifier in 2011, and will add a new member (San Diego State) in 2012.

"Before the recession hit, a lot of the Pac-10 schools were considering adding teams," Sherry said. "To be honest, it's kind of embarrassing for Cal to be cutting ... when schools are adding sports, they're adding women's lacrosse."

The team voiced particular concern about what it felt was limited information throughout the department's decision making process.

"We were told they were proposing models," Sherry said. "I haven't seen any of the models that included a number of combinations of sports being cut. Some of the models did not include cutting sports at all.

"To be fair, I don't think that there were any easy ways to do this, and they needed to make a business decision. But ... I think it is important for the kids to understand that it was an objective decision and the numbers would prove that. Instead of saying, 'you don't understand how much went into all of this, it was a huge decision,' show them why."

News of elimination could significantly impact a squad that Sherry expected to have a breakout season this spring. With normal transfer waiting periods being waived for all affected sports, the team's 10 freshmen and 11 sophomores will be faced with important decisions.

"We kind of just planted a seed (on Tuesday) about what their actions are," Sherry said. "I'll probably meet with each girl individually over the next couple of weeks. I think the upperclassmen would chose to stay here and finish out their Cal degree."


Ed Yevelev is the assistant sports editor. Contact him at

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