California Cutting Its Women's Lacrosse Program

The press release below from the University of California, Berkeley indicates that women's lacrosse is among the sports to be eliminated at the end of this academic year.

BERKELEY - University of California, Berkeley, Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau announced today (Tuesday, Sept. 28) a comprehensive plan for the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics that will result in a broad-based yet sustainable program that continues to support the campus's commitment to excellence.

At the end of this academic year, baseball, men's and women's gymnastics, and women's lacrosse will no longer represent UC Berkeley in intercollegiate competition. In addition, men's rugby will transition to a varsity club sport, a newly-designated status at UC Berkeley.

In a letter sent today to the campus community, Birgeneau said the rugby team's history indicates that this change should not affect its competitive opportunities or abilities. He added that Cal rugby's unsurpassed excellence will be maintained through continued campus support in terms of admissions and through access to sports medicine and training facilities.

Together, these steps will generate an estimated $4 million in direct and indirect cost reductions for Cal Athletics beginning in the next fiscal year, while limiting future growth in expenses.

The number of varsity sports at UC Berkeley will be reduced from 29 to 24 under the new plan. A total of 163 student-athletes of the more than 800 currently participating are directly 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.

While recognizing Cal Athletics' intrinsic value to the campus and UC Berkeley's continued dedication to a broad-based athletics program, Birgeneau said the new plan will contain costs, reduce institutional support to reasonable levels, increase revenues and enhance the program's ability to help student-athletes succeed on and off the field.

"This plan preserves what sets Cal Athletics apart from the crowd a rare combination of competitive excellence, academic achievement and community engagement," Birgeneau said.

Origins of the outcome

The announcement culminates a year-long process that included extensive consultation with members of the campus community. The new plan addresses many of the findings of the Chancellor's Advisory Council on Intercollegiate Athletics and the Academic Senate's Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletics.

While financial considerations played an important role in deciding which sports to cut, they were not the only measures used, campus officials said. Other important factors considered included net cost, donor impact, student opportunity, proximity of national/regional varsity competition, contribution to diversity, impact on the campus's ability to comply with Title IX, opportunity for NCAA and Pac 10 success, utilization of support services and history of competitive excellence. In the end, difficult decisions about which sports to retain were necessary.

Officials said Cal Athletics and the campus are committed to gender equity and compliance with Title IX. Despite the sport-reduction decisions, they said UC Berkeley expects to remain in conformity with Title IX through the "proportionality prong," which states that male-female participation numbers must be "substantially proportionate" to their respective full-time undergraduate enrollments. The current undergraduate gender ratio, from fall 2008, is 52.9 percent female and 47.1 percent male.

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