Cal to Cut Five Intercollegiate Teams

Read the official announcement and information about changes to Intercollegiate Athletics »

Chancellor Robert Birgeneau's announcement

The press release accompanying the announcement

The FAQ accompanying the announcement

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Five teams will no longer represent UC Berkeley as intercollegiate sports starting at the end of the academic year as part of the effort to help sustain the financially-troubled campus Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Men's rugby, men's baseball, men's and women's gymnastics and women's lacrosse will be eliminated from the department's intercollegiate roster, according to the letter written by Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and released to students, faculty, staff and Cal supporters today.

Though rugby will no longer be an identified as an intercollegiate sport by the department, its status as a club team will allow it to compete both nationally and internationally and maintain the same caliber of success as it has in the past, though a definite plan has yet to be created as to how to implement this transition, according to the letter.

"Across the country at everywhere but Cal, men's rugby competes at an elite level as a club sport," he said in the letter. "For Cal men's rugby, which was a club sport for many years up until the early 1990s, we anticipate a new tier of 'varsity club.'"

The campus will honor existing scholarship commitments for those student athletes whose teams have been eliminated, and the campus will support students wishing to transfer to other schools to compete.

According to an FAQ released with Birgeneau's letter, "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)." The total number of intercollegiate teams at UC Berkeley is now reduced from 29 to 24.

The removal of these teams will allow the campus to save $4 million in the first year and put the department in a better position to control its costs moving forward, according to Birgeneau.

"The senior administration working closely with Intercollegiate Athletics have concluded that... we cannot sustain the level of excellence we expect of everything that we do at Cal and still maintain all of the Intercollegiate Athletic sports that we currently do," Birgeneau said in the letter.

A report released earlier this month by the Academic Senate Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletics stated that the department needed to take action to try and curtail its reliance on institutional support, which in the 2008-09 fiscal year totaled $13.7 million.

The task force agreed that campus support for the department must be reduced to a total of $5 million by 2014. However, the report advised that cuts be made primarily in spending and in managerial positions within the department, rather than in cutting teams.

An advisory council appointed by Birgeneau in March mirrored the task force's recommendations on the level of campus support in a report released in July.

In the letter, Birgeneau said in addition to the reductions in the number of intercollegiate teams, the department will work to reduce expenses beyond the $2.4 million reduction Athletic Director Sandy Barbour enacted last spring. He added that the department will attempt to raise income through fundraising and other areas of "targeted investment" like television revenues.

"We believe we have a well-defined and compelling plan that in three to four years will reduce campus support for Intercollegiate Athletics to approximately $5 million annually," he said in the letter. "We deeply regret the disappointment that these decisions will cause to many members of our Cal community."


Katie Nelson is the lead academics and administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected]

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