UC Berkeley

Breaking news: Cal baseball reinstated

Junior right-hander Erik Johnson/Photo: Michael Pimentel, Goldenbearsports.com

Updated (see below) Cal’s baseball team was reinstated today as a varsity sport, following a fundraising drive that raised pledges of $9 million so far. The $9 million is short of the $10 million the university declared necessary to rescind the closure of Cal baseball, but university officials said today that they were confident the final sums would be raised.

In September, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau announced that five sports were being eliminated from the varsity roster — baseball, men’s and women’s gymnastics, women’s lacrosse and rugby. All of the sports have now been reinstated except for men’s gymnastics, which is urgently trying to raise $4 million.

The announced cuts, and the subsequent fundraising efforts, are part of the university’s goal of reducing institutional support for athletics to $5 million a year by 2014. The university is under severe budgetary pressures as state funding gets squeezed, a situation that will probably worsen this year.

Cal’s baseball team is currently ranked 13th in the country and starts a three-game road trip at the University of Arizona today.

We’ll have more coverage of the baseball decision following a series of press conferences scheduled for later today.

Update: Stu Gordon, the former Golden Bear pitcher who led the effort to save Cal baseball, said today that well over 1,000 people contributed to the fundraising effort. Gordon himself, now a lawyer, gave an initial $500,000 and topped it up with a further $50,000. He said 40 people had given over $50,000 in the drive, and a further 100 people had given between $25,000 and $50,000.

Gordon said Jeff Kent, the Cal player who went on to an all-star career in Major League Baseball, had given over $100,000. Controversial agent Scott Boras had given $50,000 because of his belief in the importance of talent flowing from Cal.

“It’s still our goal to get up to a $20 million endowment so Cal baseball can be self-supporting,” Gordon said. Gordon and the other supporters have also come forward with a raft of suggestions for raising the revenues from baseball at Cal, including looking at advertising on the outfield fences. Gordon said that Larry Baer, president of the San Francisco Giants, had been helpful in the discussions.

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  • Rachel A.

    I read this aloud to two seven year old Berkeley natives and they yelled “YAAAAAAY!”

  • Anonymous

    Birgeneau and Barbour are not happy being pushed in a corner nether one wanted Cal Baseball back! But the save CAL BASEBALL efforts were too strong GO BEARS!!!!

  • Anonymous

    University of California Berkeley Chancellor Robert J Birgeneau and Provost Breslauer need to go.
    (The author who has 35 years’ consulting experience, has taught at University of California Berkeley, where he was able to observe the culture and the way senior management work.) Recently: Chancellor pays ex Michigan governor $300,000 for lectures; NCAA places men’s basketball program on probation

    Chancellor Robert J Birgeneau’s ($500,000 salary) eight-year fiscal track record is dismal indeed. He would like to blame the politicians, since they stopped giving him every dollar asked for, and the state legislators do share some responsibility for the financial crisis. But not in the sense he means.

    A competent chancellor would have been on top of identifying inefficiencies and then crafting a plan to fix them. Able oversight by the UC Board of Regents and the legislature would have required him to provide data on inefficiencies and on what steps he was taking to solve them during his 8 year reign. Instead, every year Birgeneau would request a budget increase, the regents would agree to it, and the legislature would provide. The hard questions were avoided by all concerned, and the problems just piled up to $150 million of inefficiencies….until there was no money left.

    It’s not that Birgeneau was unaware that there were, in fact, waste and inefficiencies. Faculty and staff raised issues with Birgeneau and Provost Breslauer ($400,000 salary), but when they failed to see relevant action taken, they stopped. Finally, Birgeneau engaged some expensive ($3,000,000) consultants to tell him and Provost Breslauer what they should have known as leaders or been able to find out from the bright, engaged Cal. people. (A prominent east coast university is accomplishing the same without consultants)

    But you never want a crisis to go to waste. Merely cutting out inefficiencies does not have the effect desired. Cal has been badly damaged. Good people are loosing their jobs. Cal’s leadership is either incompetent or culpable.

    Increasing the budget is not enough. Take aim at the real source of Cal’s crisis by honorably retiring Chancellor Birgeneau and Provost Breslauer.

    We heartily agree.