UC Davis will discontinue four of its 27 intercollegiate sports, and the athletics department will absorb another $400,000 in annual operational cuts as the campus continues to struggle through an unprecedented financial crisis.
Women’s rowing, men’s wrestling, men’s swimming and diving, and men’s indoor track and field will be discontinued as of July 1. The loss of the teams directly affects 73 female student-athletes and 80 male student-athletes and the coaching staffs.
On April 16, Director of Athletics Greg Warzecka informed the coaches of the discontinued teams, and the department sent e-mails to all student-athletes on active rosters.
At a news conference later, Fred Wood, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, said the cuts have a human toll. “What’s happening here today,” Wood said, “is a very real, very significant and very personal impact of the budget crisis in California and the resulting financial position of UC Davis.
“Our Aggie coaches and student-athletes are proud, talented and dedicated,” he added. “Today, they are in mourning for teams and what those losses mean to them as individuals.”
Chancellor Linda Katehi said that dropping athletics teams and losing opportunities for student-athletes is regrettable but necessary. “The UC Davis community is confronting enormous financial challenges,” she said.
In February, Katehi and Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Enrique Lavernia assigned $36 million in budget reductions campuswide for 2010-11, including a $1.79 million cut to Intercollegiate Athletics. With associated benefits and additional reductions, the cut amounts to about $2.4 million.
Athletics budget plan
At the news conference, Warzecka said the painful cuts to the teams would reduce costs by a little more than $5 million over the next five years.
Over the past few years, Intercollegiate Athletics has already made across-the-board reductions to its sports and administrative unit budgets. Employees are subject to furloughs, and positions have been lost. Athletics has reduced the funding for facility repairs and renovations, cut team and administrative travel, and more. When the fiscal year ends in June, the department will have an accrued deficit of $1.4 million.
Warzecka said the new budget plan would require the department to generate higher levels of revenue and gifts. Overall, the plan would eliminate the $1.4-million deficit and return the department to fiscal solvency in three to five years.
Help for student-athletes
The welfare of student-athletes has been front and center in the discussions and decision-making about the cuts, Wood said.
For student-athletes of discontinued sports who choose to continue their studies at UC Davis, the campus will continue their annual grants-in-aid as they make “normal” progress toward their degree. At UC Davis, in 2009-10 full grants-in-aid are worth $21,513
Also, UC Davis is making the announcement now so that current and prospective student-athletes can make their choices about where to study and compete in the future. The National Letter of Intent signing period for some sports — including swimming and diving, and wrestling — began Wednesday.
UC Davis will assist the student-athletes who choose to continue their athletic careers at other institutions. On behalf of UC Davis, the Big West Conference is issuing a blanket contact release that will allow any institution to contact affected student-athletes regarding possible transfer. UC Davis’ Compliance Services and Student-Athlete Academic Services will provide information and other assistance to student-athletes.
How the decision was made
Warzecka said the planning had to take in consideration the requirements of Title IX, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, athletic conferences, student referenda and more.
He and his staff evaluated more than 20 models for reaching fiscal solvency. They met with coaches, student-athletes and other internal constituencies. He also consulted with the Campus Union and Recreation Board, which oversees funding from student initiatives, and the Athletics Administrative Advisory Committee.
Last month, Wood, the Student Affairs vice chancellor, appointed an eight-member team of campus faculty and staff to review budget proposals from Intercollegiate Athletics and assist and advise Wood on those budget recommendations.
Wendi Delmendo, compliance director for UC Davis, said the approved budget plan meets the university's requirements under Title IX in regard to the ratio between undergraduate enrollment and participation opportunities by gender. The plan also will meet the requirements under Title IX pertaining to distribution of grants-in-aid and all other measures of compliance.
UC Davis will continue to offer 23 varsity sports, including 14 women’s and nine men’s teams. Even with cuts, the UC Davis program offers more than the average of 18 among NCAA Division I schools.
The women’s teams are basketball, cross country, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, indoor track and field, lacrosse, outdoor track and field, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, volleyball and water polo. The nine men’s sports are baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, tennis, outdoor track and field, and water polo.
The team most recently discontinued was men’s gymnastics in 1987.
Excluding the rosters of the four sports that are being discontinued, there are 556 student-athletes and 619 roster opportunities (because some students compete in more than one sport).
For the past two years, UC Davis has been in an unprecedented fiscal crisis as it tries to resolve shortfalls totaling more than $150 million, or 25 percent, of its general fund budget of $590 million as of July 1, 2008. For 2010-11, the campus faces an additional shortfall of $38 million to $78 million, depending on the outcome of the governor's budget proposal.
Most UC Davis employees have been subject to furloughs since Sept. 1. More than 300 full-time employees have been laid off this year and last year, and about 400 positions have been eliminated through attrition in this same period.
The university has dropped classes or sections in English composition, foreign languages and other programs, and some class sizes have been increased. Access hours for student services have also been reduced.
This year, the UC Board of Regents imposed a $586 mid-year increase in the annual systemwide educational fee. For 2010-11, the systemwide educational fee will increase to $3,134 a quarter, or 36.5 percent more than students paid for fall 2009. For the 2010 fall quarter, a UC Davis undergraduate will pay an estimated $4,360, which includes campus-based fees.
AGGIE ATHLETIC TRADITIONS
“During my brief tenure as chancellor, I have come to appreciate the rich and unique athletic traditions at UC Davis,” Chancellor Linda Katehi wrote in accepting the recommendations to adopt the plan that drops the four sports. “I believe this budget model provides the best means of preserving and enhancing these athletic traditions for the future.”
The chancellor’s letter and more information and documents about the athletics cuts are online at news.ucdavis.edu/special_reports/sports_dropped.