Why Raiders stepped up to save Oakland youth sports eliminated by district

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Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis tells ABC7 News exclusively why the team pulled out its checkbook to help save high school sports in the Oakland Unified School District. (KGO-TV)

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis tells ABC7 News exclusively why the team pulled out its checkbook to help save high school sports in the Oakland Unified School District.

Last week, district officials announced budgets were forcing them to drop 10 sports this year, many of them girls' sports. District officials were criticized for potentially violating Title IX -- the federal statue that requires equal funding for girl's sports

We visited with Skyline High School girls golfers who have known for a couple of days that their team would be spared the budget axe.

RELATED: Oakland Raiders pledge $250K to save Oakland youth sports

On Wednesday, they found out that all 10 sports threatened with elimination this year would be OK. Golfer Ariel Chen said, "I feel like high school sports gives us a sense of community that we don't have in regular education."

Outside donations - including $250,000 from the Oakland Raiders, helped save the day. Raiders owner Mark Davis, a product of Oakland public schools, told us why, in an exclusive interview by phone.

"After school sports were very important to me and probably kept me out of more trouble than I got in. So I've always felt and affection for them," he said.

Davis went on to tell us: "We decided to do the $250,000 to get this thing going, and its all based on the Raiders were born in Oakland and it's always going to be part of our DNA."

RELATED: Oakland Unified reconsiders cutting some after school sports programs

An earlier anonymous $35,000 helped save three sports -- including golf and lacrosse.

But several other sports were left on the bubble until the Silver Black stepped in: including wrestling, swimming, boys golf, boys tennis, boys volleyball and girls badminton.

It you noticed a lot of girls' sports were in jeopardy, so did Davis.

"I think the fact that there was such a disproportionate amount of women's sports cut really stood out to me in this situation and felt that it was a great thing to help with them."

Even girls' golf coach James Salazar was impressed. "Speaking as a 49er fan, I had to stop and take a deep breath and thank the Raiders for that donation. Because of them, these girls are at the course right now," he said.

What happens next year is still an open question. However, the school district has opened at donation page for people who want to contribute. And Raiders owner Mark Davis says the team is looking into a 5-year plan to assist the district with some of its issues, even though the Silver and Black plans to move to Las Vegas in the coming years.

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