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Soccer dodges bullet
by Paul Kennedy, September 28th, 2010 5:40PM

TAGS:  college men, soccer business


[CALIFORNIA MEN] The much-anticipated decision on what sports the University of California at Berkeley will cut is in. Men's soccer, one of the sports in jeopardy, was spared, but baseball was not so fortunate.

Baseball, which dates back to 1882 at Cal, will be dropped in 2011, along with three other varsity sports -- men's and women's gymnastics and women's lacrosse. In addition, rugby, winner of 18 national titles in the last 20 years, will become a "varsity club" sport, meaning the school will cut off funding for the program.

The cuts will save Cal an estimated $4 million in 2011-12. Amid California's budget crisis that has hit public education hard, the Cal faculty has pressed to cut funding for athletics.

Cal has one of the largest one of the largest athletic programs in the country for a public university. The goal is to reduce the annual budget losses to $5 million by 2014.

A total of 163 student-athletes of the more than 800 currently participating in Cal athletics will be impacted by the decision – 38 in baseball, 19 in men's gymnastics, 15 in women's gymnastics, 30 in women's lacrosse and 61 in men's rugby – as well as 13 full-time coaches.

"Clearly, this is a painful outcome after months of deliberation, analysis and the examination of every viable alternative," UC Berkeley Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour said. "I deeply regret the impact this will have on so many valued members of our community. I know it will take time, but I believe that once our community digests the information and understands the reality we were forced to confront, it will come together, as it always does, in support of our student-athletes."

Among the factors considered: net cost, donor impact, student opportunity, proximity of national/regional varsity competition, contribution to diversity, impact on Cal's ability to comply with Title IX, opportunity for NCAA and Pac-10 success, utilization of support services and history of competitive excellence.

Because of the large rosters and extensive travel, baseball is considered a vulnerable college sport. In recent years, Vermont, Duquesne and Northern Iowa have dropped the sport.

Only one other Pac-10 school has men's gymnastics. The Bears haven't finished higher than fifth in the seven-team Pac-10 women's gymnastic championships since 1988.

Only six of the 16 opponents on the 2011 Cal women's lacrosse schedule are located west of the Rockies.

Men's soccer has enjoyed considerable success in recent years under Kevin Grimes. When he took the helm as head coach in 2000, the Bears had not won a single postseason game in the history of the program. Since 2001, Grimes has compiled a postseason record of 8-8-1. Men's soccer has more Latino athletes than any other program at the school.

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