Back in 2010 we wrote about UC-Berkeley’s decision to cut five sports programs, including its perennial champion rugby squad, women’s lacrosse, and women’s gymnastics. This decision came after it was determined that Cal’s athletic department was operating at a $12 million annual loss.
The reason for which rugby was cut was not financial, rather it was cut to help bring Cal back in line with the requirements of Title IX–specifically the necessary balance between the number of male and female athletes.
This week Cal announced that it would no longer drop the women’s sports and it would bring back rugby as well. This comes as a result of an aggressive fundraising campaign which is said to have resulted in nearly $13 million in pledges to keep the sports alive.
Cal Vice chancellor Frank Yeary spoke of how impressed he was at the response, saying “We’re very impressed with the way the community has rallied,” Yeary said. “The challenge for baseball is it is a larger sport in terms of costs. As a practical manner, they would have had to raise four, five or six times as much money as they raised to remain in position to be maintained. From the very beginning we said we simply could not agree to short-term or stopgap measures. We needed a sustainable solution.”
The pledges received specifically for baseball and men’s gymnastics were deemed insufficient. Yeary said the baseball program raised around $2 million, but would have needed to reach $10 million to become self-sustainable for the following 10-year period.
Former Major Leaguer Doug Nickle claimed that the school did not give them a target amount to save the program, also stating that he believes they would have been able to reach the $10 million goal. The decision to retain the two women’s sports, while not bringing back baseball, might also be aimed at keeping Cal within the rules of Title IX which mandates the percentage of female athletes be equal to the percentage of female students. Adding the many baseball players would have necessitated adding either more female athletes to existing teams or adding new women’s sports.
On February 8, 2011, the College Sports Council encouraged high schools to resist enforcing gender quotas in high school athletic, claiming that they are unconstitutional. CSC has been backed by the Pacific Legal Foundation who sent a legal opinion letter to 12 regional offices of the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.
The Independent Women’s Forum has also expressed to the House Committee on Education and the Workplace the need for further investigation into the area.
It seems that both sides of the Title IX debate are seeking some sort of resolution from Congress on the matter. This battle has been going on for decades and will likely be left on the backburner while other priorities take center stage in Washington.