Campus reinstates men's gymnastics team

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UC Berkeley's men's gymnastics team, one of the five athletic teams originally cut in September, has been reinstated, despite not reaching the campus' $4 million fundraising target, campus officials announced Monday.

The men's gymnastics team is the final team to be reinstated after the campus announced Sept. 28 that five athletic teams - men's rugby, men's baseball, men's and women's gymnastics and women's lacrosse - would be cut to try to curtail the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics' growing need for institutional support, which in the 2008-09 fiscal year totaled $13.7 million.

Athletic Director Sandy Barbour said in a press conference that despite the team not being able to raise the $4 million necessary to sustain the program for the next seven to 10 years, the program has come up with steps to reduce annual operating expenses.

Until the ultimate fundraising goal of $4 million is met, men's gymnastics will be limited in providing financial aid to student-athletes. For the time being, until sustainable funding is in place, scholarship commitments will only be offered to returning student-athletes, while athletic scholarship aid for new recruits will be restricted.

Barring an increase in donations, the program will be limited to three total scholarships to divide among its returning gymnasts next season - the amount is less than half of the NCAA maximum of 6.3 scholarships allowed for men's gymnastics. This past year, the team worked with 4.7 scholarships, with the team's graduating seniors accounting for 1.7 scholarships.

"This is a concession to the timing and to the fact that they have not and are not yet at the $4 million mark," Barbour said. "There is a step down in financial aid, and as to any other curtailment? We have not contemplated that at this point."

Despite lack of aid for future gymnasts who wish to compete for UC Berkeley, coach Tim McNeill said no current student-athlete gymnasts will be transferring from the program.

According to McNeill, before today there probably would have been a few students who would have considered transferring schools. But after the team found out this afternoon that it was to be reinstated, McNeill said no student-athletes would be transferring.

Barbour said McNeill, who began this year and coached the team to fourth place in the NCAAs, has "provided tremendous leadership under obviously difficult circumstances" and that she will continue to discuss long-term options with him.

Barbour added that over the next seven to 10 years, there is "no doubt" that men's gymnastics and other athletic teams are going to have to work with the department to reach out to each program's extended community to ask them to assist in closing the funding gap for the department.

"We certainly went through several iterations to bring programs back, and it has taken time," she said. "The best news is that we're here with all 29 programs together, and we have the opportunity to move forward to address the financial challenges that we will face."


Contact Katie Nelson and Ed Yevelev at [email protected]

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