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Cal cuts baseball but reinstates 3 other sports

February 11, 2011 7:06:37 PM PST
UC Berkeley confirmed painful cuts to its sports program on Friday-- there will be no Cal baseball season next year, nor men's gymnastics, though three other sports have been saved. The university needed $25 million to keep all its teams, but only raised about half of that. So now many supporters who donated money are angry.

Cal baseball players were told to stay hopeful despite their program being cut.

"The first thing that went through my mind was 'we're dangerous. We're all mad,'" said sophomore shortstop Tony Renda.

"The heartbreaking part is that it took us a long time to build up the program to be a playoff contender on a yearly basis and that's who we are and to see that all come crashing down and all at once, is difficult to watch," said baseball coat David Esquer.

The university had announced it was cutting five sports because of the state's budget deficit. A fundraising campaign began, with a $25 million target. Only half was raised and according to the university, baseball came up short.

"Baseball would have had to raise 4, 5, 6 times as much money for them to have been able to show the same financial capacity that for example Rugby showed us," said Cal Vice Chancellor Frank Yeary.

Rugby was one of the teams spared, so was women's lacrosse and gymnastics. Had the university gone ahead and cut these five sports, it would have put Cal out of its current compliance with Title IX, the federal gender equity law. It would have meant cutting even more men's sports.

Ann Flemmer is mom of a baseball player. She was told by the university it was all or none.

"That was a requirement when we talked to the university, that it was not baseball alone and we agreed with that," said Flemmer.

"I have $24,000 sitting in a trust account most of it from old Stanford baseball players and I'm going to have to ask them, 'Should we give it to Cal now or do you want your money back?' It's a shame," said Pete McCloskey, a former Stanford baseball player.

John Baker played at Cal and is now a catcher with the Florida Marlins.

"It's embarrassing for the University of California, Berkeley, the greatest public university in the United States no longer has American's pastime," said Baker.

As the famous New York Yankee catcher, Yogi Berra once said, 'It ain't over, until it's over.' The university has no plan to bring baseball back, unless a huge last minute monetary commitment is made. It would be quite a loss since the team has been around for 119 years.

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