The University of California, Berkeley is eliminating five varsity sports, namely its national collegiate championship men’s rugby team. Men’s rugby is by far the most successful of the 29 varsity sports at Cal-Berkeley. Head Coach, Jack Clark, joined Varney & Co. this morning to discuss the university’s latest move to cut costs.
“Well we’re caught up in a numbers thing at this point,” said Coach Clark. “If they cut four sports that were costing them quite a bit of money then that throws us into a new Title IX gender equity equation. I have a team with a bunch of male headcounts so I guess they decided they had to reduce our team and it’s unfortunate.”
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Berkeley’s sports department is struggling with millions of dollars of debt at a time when California is in a state of financial crisis. The cuts, effective 2010-2011 school year, will save the school an estimated $4 million a year. Rugby, however, contributes in excess $300,000 annually to the athletic department’s general fund.
“I think we’re looked at as an auxiliary unit and we’re meant to kind of pay our own way and we’ve fallen behind in that responsibility as a department so now there’s sports cuts,” said Coach Clark. “We pay for ourselves in rugby. We don’t cost the department or the university any money.”
The team has tested itself at the highest levels of competition, earning 25 of the 31 collegiate national championships played in the United States since 1980. “We’re out of varsity athletics which is so critical to us and I think they’re taking us toward the direction where we would have some other status,” said Coach Clark. “That other status just doesn’t work for us.”