State Senator Requests Account Detailing Sources of Athletics Funding

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In a letter delivered to UC Berkeley Wednesday, Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, requested a "full and transparent" account of the financing sources of UC Berkeley's Department of Intercollegiate Athletics in order to determine whether the department is using state subsidies.

Yee said in the letter that there is "ample evidence" to suggest the department may be supported in part by state funds, including Chancellor Robert Birgeneau's formation of an advisory council on the finances of intercollegiate athletics in recognition of the department's reliance on campus support.

According to the California Department of Finance program's definition, intercollegiate athletics is unable to receive state funds.

Claire Holmes, associate vice chancellor of public affairs, said she could not comment on the letter because administrators had not reviewed Yee's claims.

Though for decades intercollegiate athletics has been supported by millions of dollars in campus funds-totaling $13.7 million last year-campus officials have denied the use of state funds to support the department.

Adam Keigwin, chief of staff for Yee, said intercollegiate athletics is not a private entity, and because there are fewer dollars being given by the state into the university, it is important that every dollar be scrutinized in order to make certain state funds are not being used.

"Do (students) want millions of dollars put into athletics and less put into classes?" he said. "This is education, after all, and there should never be a time when we are funneling money to non-education over teaching the students."

Holmes said the campus will work to promptly reply to Yee's concerns.

"There are some inaccuracies in his letter, which we want to address," she said. "But the letter has been given to the appropriate people to issue a suitable response. The campus is very willing to work with Yee to make sure that all of his questions are addressed in a timely fashion."

While Keigwin said Yee is hopeful that the campus already has all of the department's funds in order, the public, rather than the campus administration, ultimately needs to decide where student fee dollars are being spent.

"The administration just acts like they are in a vacuum," he said. "These are the student taxpayer dollars and if they are not being spent in a way that they are meant to be spent, then we need to be vocal about it."


Contact Katie Nelson at [email protected]

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