Birgeneau and Barbour Had Other Options for Cuts

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Correction Appended

I agree with Eric Arden's strongest points in his defense of the women's lacrosse team: the damaging lack of transparency in Cal's athletics decisions, as well as the athletic center and football budget, and the tremendous loss in Cal's short-sighted decision to end women's lacrosse as a varsity sport.

One of my daughters in eighth grade plays in the Berkeley Bears Lacrosse Club, and if the varsity lacrosse decision becomes permanent, that hurts Berkeley High, in turn hurting our middle school club program.

But the solution is not to drop field hockey. Field hockey, like lacrosse, provides a growth experience for young women to mature into collegiate student athletes and stronger individuals in life.

When the chancellor and athletic director made their misguided announcement two weeks ago, I thought: the campus's decision to move the Water Resources Archives from UC Berkeley had to rank as the dumbest we could make; but this one comes close.

Instead of eliminating varsity sports, our chancellor and athletic director could have said something like this:

"Athletics, including intercollegiate athletics, form an important part of life-long student development, a valid budget item in our undergraduate curriculum.

We can no longer afford, however, the national space race in programs like football and basketball to sacrifice other sports that reach a larger population of young people. The Cal diversity we prize must also be protected in athletics!

"The university's challenges in higher public education are not unique; we just face them sooner and more intensely than others. We will provide leadership to match that challenge.

"We will stand down from the excesses inherent in nationally-ambitious gladiatorial sports, and realign our resources to preserve our intercollegiate opportunities for more students.

"We will downsize the oversized programs and budgets, and focus on regional competition to extend competitive opportunities to the most students.

"And we call on our sister public universities, in the Pac-10 and nationwide, to join us and restore athletics to the worthy perspective they deserve."


Correction: Friday, October 15, 2010
A previous version of this op-ed misspelled the name of the author, Antonio Rossmann.

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

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