OT: Cal Drops Their Baseball Program

Submitted by Croatian_Blue on September 29th, 2010 at 6:29 AM


It's articles like this that make me thankful we have/had Athletic Directors like Bill Martin and David Brandon.  There is no discussion of any Michigan sports programs getting cut during these times while great schools like Cal have to cut not only baseball, but also both gymnastics teams and women's lacrosse. 

Thank you Michigan Athletic Department!


Stephen Y

September 29th, 2010 at 6:38 AM ^

This is the most idiotic thing I ever heard.  How do you cut a program that has been in existence since the 1890s?  Perhaps it had something to do with Title IX?


September 29th, 2010 at 8:28 AM ^

If you're referring to California's Prop 13, that limits the increases in property taxes in order to protect people from skyrocketing taxes that are based on unrealized increases in property values. Those property taxes go to local government.

This problem is unrelated. It is occurring in states that don't have an equivalent to Prop 13. It is largely an issue of costs increasing more quickly than revenues.


September 29th, 2010 at 8:22 AM ^

It's not Title IX when they cut 2 women's teams along with 2 men's teams. Title IX requires that there are as many athletic scholarships available to women as to men.

The biggest flaw in it is that football isn't separated out. Football pays for most other programs and has a huge number of scholarships but there is no equivalent for women. The result is that a school that offers 85 football scholarships to men has to offer 85 more scholarships to non-football playing women than to non-football playing men. This has resulted in many men's teams being cut while women's teams are funded.

Steve in PA

September 29th, 2010 at 10:39 AM ^

But how do you reconcile football paying for all other sports when only about half of the programs bring money into the school while the rest are an outflow?



Cal's athletic program has been in financial trouble for a long time.  It reminds me of the same problems High Schools face, but on a much larger level.


September 29th, 2010 at 5:32 PM ^

Many PAC10 and SEC schools pull in a good margin of profit on baseball. LSU and Arizona State pull in enormous crowds (7-8k for 30 games a year) for major profits. I want to say 8 or so of the SEC schools pull profit, and maybe 5-6 PAC10 schools. Cal obviously not being one of them. Hell, even Oregon (just restarted the baseball program) had some major crowds this season.

A few in the Big12 do as well. Texas certainly does. Baylor, A&M, Oklahoma, and maybe Nebraska wouldn't suprise me either.


September 29th, 2010 at 7:07 AM ^

Cal may not be a national power to M's level, but they should have no problem pulling in enough revenue between tickets, TV and merchandise from their revenue sports to fund the department. Do they have a bunch of dead weight on staff dragging  them down? Is somebody wasting resources? Is it just the nature of that area of the country?

Also: Cal Baseball recruits that are any good... Michigan has a fully funded program!


September 29th, 2010 at 12:03 PM ^

Cal had 29 varsity sports (M has 25), had sold out 8 of its past 38 games coming into the season, with many tickets likely being heavily discounted student tix, has a small basketball arena that's really a gym. Their TV contracts bring in nowhere near what the Big 10's do. The AD was running a $10-$13 million deficit. (unclear whether that's per year or cumulative over the past few years).

The Cal athletic department existed far beyond its ability to self-fund. In a university facing severe budget cuts and raising student fees dramatically, in a place where support staff across the university was being cut and departments are despairing how they're going to keep their prominent scholars, it was no longer possible, within the politics of the university, to maintain the number of sports they had.


September 29th, 2010 at 7:30 AM ^

It is a damned shame that the California state school system is eliminating athletic programs, but give a cursory look at high school and junior high athletics not only there but in many, many parts of the country to get an idea of how bad things are getting at the root. The state economy is a complete mess, and a lot of this is due to the state of the national economy, although you could look at this and that aspect peculiar to California and lay some of the blame there. But if people value public education and public institutions that provide sports then realize that these require an investment. No, not everything just magically works because it is privatized - quite the opposite.


September 29th, 2010 at 8:27 AM ^

I am waiting to start my new job, because the state of California doesn't know how to pass a damn budget. Until then, I'm technically hired but kind of in limbo. Hopefully things get better soon, because I'm not leaving Florida for a life of crime in California. Although.... nah forget it...


September 29th, 2010 at 9:11 AM ^

Cal's AD is not self supporting. Every other division of the university has faced severe cuts, including furlough days and hiring freezes. Departments have been forced to fire support staff, given up phones, cut back on student services. Other universities are poaching faculty.

There's a lot of anger among the Cal faculty that the AD has been running significant deficits and hasn't been asked to make any cuts. This is just the AD catching up to the rest of the university. This probably should have happened sooner, at the same time that the remainder of the university faced their cuts.

Other Chris

September 29th, 2010 at 8:09 AM ^

Their men's team has (had, I guess more accurately) has a world gymnastics team member and three U.S. national team members on it.  They finished ranked fourth last year.


September 29th, 2010 at 1:38 PM ^

Some of the gymnastics blogs were discussing this; they have enough funds to self support themselves for one year after they're cut off from the AD, but the can't allow it because of Title IX. There are plans to do even more fundraising in order to fully support both male and female gymnastics teams without anything from the AD. 


September 29th, 2010 at 8:27 AM ^

It means very little. I saw the article yesterday. It's interesting because Cal's program has been at least decent the last few years. Also interesting because the Pac10 had just talked Colorado into forming a baseball team during the expansion phase. For a school to cut a sport that the conference is actively trying to grow, that's unusual.

HOWEVA, baseball is the most expensive non-revenue sport. And per kid, it might actually be more expensive than football from an operations standpoint (ignoring media, marketing, the circus that is NCAAFB). You're talking a lot of expensive equipment: several bats per player at 200-300 easy, a few gloves per player at 100-200 per player, a couple of pairs of spikes per player at 50-100 per player, and baseballs at 60 per dozen if they use cheap crap for practice (which they probably use better balls than that) or 100 per dozen for game balls. You've still got 3 umpires at 100 per game, catchers equipment for 3-4 guys at close to 200 per player, and extensive travel (even for Cal).


September 29th, 2010 at 10:30 AM ^

Baseball makes more money than hockey or lacrosse, just not at Michigan. The CWS is the third largest championship money maker in the NCAA. 

But yeah, as far as costs, I wouldn't doubt it to be right up there with hockey or lacrosse. Baseball players have just as much equipment if not more, and it can be even more expensive with leather gloves and today's bats.

And travel for baseball is definitely more of an issue. 60% of teams come from the Midwest/Northeast, but hardly any can host a game until April.


September 29th, 2010 at 11:23 AM ^

Not only is baseball costly, but becauase of Title IX, it also means that the team has to field a women's team with the same amount of schollies.  Other than maybe ten schools with great women's basketball teams, and a few strong women's softball programs, nobody watches women's sports except for friends and family.  This makes a program like baseball even more expensive.

It's like every men's program has hungry remoras attatched to its belly, and the remoras cost more than the program.


September 29th, 2010 at 8:25 AM ^

This is more alarming than sad, imo.  College sports were, up until this point, one of the few refuges from the stresses of life, including the economy and politics.  No matter what happened around us, we could forget about everything else and immerse ourselves in the joy of watching our favorite team compete.

Now, not so much.  And if it can happen at Cal (although somewhat unique), it can happen at other places.  This has "slippery slope" written all over it. 


September 29th, 2010 at 8:28 AM ^

I'm not sure what attendance figures were like at Cal baseball games. It may have been one of those things, "Well, gosh, do you think the 12 fans that show up will miss it?"

Also, I wouldn't be surprised if veteran PAC-10 organizations are being asked to send a little extra love (dolla dolla billz) to the conference offices to help fund their TV network startup.


September 29th, 2010 at 10:01 AM ^

As someone who is a (reasonably) close follower of Cal sports, this to me was the most shocking thing. Cal Rugby has won TWENTY FIVE national titles. During the Tom Holmoe lean years of the football team, the rugby team was more celebrated on campus than the footballers.

It's extremely sad all around. And, as someone who lives in this state, another alarming sign of financial apocalypse.

Zone Left

September 29th, 2010 at 11:12 AM ^

I love living in California too, but I'm in total agreement about the disastrous state of its finances. I feel like we're about a year from eliminating all functions of government.
<br>The state needs to get split in two somewhere north of LA. It's too big, too ideologically disparate, and desperately needs a rewritten state Constitution.


September 29th, 2010 at 11:47 AM ^

I am also stuck here in Cali. This state is an example of why direct democracy doesn't work. Over the years the voters have added dozens of restrictive provisions to the state constitution that tie the leaders' hands and make it virtually impossible to govern. The voters say they want fundamental reform, but they oppose any specific measure that meets the definition of fundamental reform. They say they want a balanced budget, but they oppose any significant spending cuts or tax increases. 


September 29th, 2010 at 11:18 AM ^

The figure of 25 national titles is even more impressive when one realizes that national collegiate championships for rugby only began in 1980.  They have missed out on 5 national titles in the last 30 years.

Cal people like to point out that for the past decade Stanford has forfeited their long-standing rugby rivalry due to fear of bodily harm.

On the other hand, this all kind of makes sense given that Cal rugby is the only remaining Division 1 varsity rugby program in the country.

Good article (though old: from 2002) about the program here: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1025685/index.htm if anyone's interested.


September 29th, 2010 at 9:53 AM ^

The California college system is a financial nightmare. They have a shoestring endowment and are hemmoragging money right now. The state as a whole is probably in a worse financial state than the state of Michigan. UM is one of the few universities that's financially positive, hiring professors, breaking even in athletics, and our endowment is very stable.

It's sad that these athletic programs are getting cut, and I hope that Cal gets back on its feet.