California Cutting Its Women's Lacrosse Program

"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."

Birgeneau said developing a sustainable financial model for Cal Athletics has been a priority of his since he arrived on campus in 2004, and that Athletics and the central campus have been at work on a long-term financial model for several years. However, the economic downturn and a dramatic reduction in funding from the state led the chancellor to realize a more drastic plan was needed. He determined that annual institutional support for Cal Athletics should be approximately $5 million by fiscal year 2014.

"We will retain, at 24 teams, one of the larger programs in the country at an annual cost fully consistent with the levels of support provided to our peer institutions for programs that are often smaller in size," Birgeneau said. "This is not a coincidence; the leaders of this country's best universities have long understood the value of high-quality athletics programs and the extent to which they are an integral part of what defines institutional character and identity. In my opinion, the benefits of collegiate athletics, both tangible and intangible, far outweigh the cost. Although the program has been reduced in size, our commitment to Cal Athletics has not."

Support for the affected athletes, rugby team

In addition to continuing to support the impacted teams as they compete through this academic year, Cal Athletics will honor current scholarship levels for affected student-athletes who choose to remain at UC Berkeley. The department also will assist any student-athletes who want to transfer to another school to continue their athletic pursuits. Per NCAA rules, student-athletes who transfer because their athletic program was eliminated can compete immediately and will not sit out a season.

All of the employees affected by these changes will receive the full range of support services campus human resources has to offer, including job search assistance, employee relations specialists and access to counseling services.

As a varsity club sport, rugby will continue to use the campus as its training and competition venue, and keep its offices here. In the very near future, Cal Athletics and campus staff expect to meet with the rugby program to develop the details of a plan to provide the support services it needs to maintain its high level of success.

On par with its peers

Beginning in the 2011-12 academic year, Cal Athletics will sponsor 24 intercollegiate teams, a number commensurate with its peer institutions. As a comparison within the Pac-10 Conference, Stanford University sponsors 35 sports, while UCLA has 24 and the University of Washington 21. Only eight other public universities have athletics programs with more than 24 sports, including the University of Michigan (27), the University of Virginia (25) and the University of North Carolina (28).

UC Berkeley will continue to offer intercollegiate athletic programs in men's and women's basketball, men's and women's crew, men's and women's cross country, field hockey, football, men's and women's golf, men's and women's soccer, softball, men's and women's swimming and diving, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's track and field (indoor and outdoor), women's volleyball, and men's and women's water polo.

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