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The University of California cuts its baseball team; UCLA meets with Charlie Sheen

Feb 11, 2011, 1:31 PM EDT

UC Berkeley baseball

Notable University of California baseball players include Jeff Kent, Andy Messersmith, Jackie Jensen, Bob Melvin, Darren Lewis and Brandom Morrow. There will be no more, however, because we learned today that Cal has decided to drop its baseball program entirely:

The University of California announced today it will not reinstate its baseball program despite vigorous fundraising efforts to save it from the chopping block.

Cal announced in September that it would cut five athletics programs after the 2011 season in order to save $5 million by 2014. Athletics supporters quickly mobilized to form Save Cal Sports, which secured between $12 million and $16 million in pledges but fell short of the university’s stated goal of $25 million needed to save all five programs.

Cal chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau issued a statement Friday saying that enough funds were raised to reinstate men’s rugby, women’s gymnastics and women’s lacrosse, but not baseball and men’s gymnastics.

There were Title IX considerations here as well as financial ones.  I don’t pretend to know too much about the economics of Cal’s program or the Title IX implications, but California baseball writers like Bill Shaikan and John Shea are livid today and are calling the decision to axe baseball shameful.

I’m going to dig deeper this afternoon to see if that’s really the case or if it’s simply an understandable case of guys who like baseball not liking it when there is less of it.  But Shaikin and Shea are pretty savvy about behind the scenes things, so my guess is that their indignation at the university is righteous.

If that wasn’t enough California college baseball chaos for you, check out this video over at TMZ of the UCLA baseball team meeting with Charlie Sheen yesterday.  He actually tells them “don’t do crack.”  No word if he told them how much his life has improved in the nearly two weeks since he gave up weekend cocaine binges with porn stars.

The lesson here: if you play baseball, UCLA > UC Berkeley.

  1. Dan in Katonah - Feb 11, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    Craig, I think the video must have omitted Charlie explaining that crack has I higher mandatory minimum than powder cocaine. So the rest of the sentence may have been “… stick to blow, preferably snorted off a hooker’s ass.”

  2. bcopus - Feb 11, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    The lesson I learned: Drink chocolate milk.

  3. BC - Feb 11, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    Well, if Cal cut men’s baseball, what did they cut on the women’s side? Title IX, you know. Everything has to equate.

    • scapistron - Feb 11, 2011 at 2:02 PM

      More likely that most of the baseball budget got sent to the football program.

    • clydeserra - Feb 11, 2011 at 3:32 PM

      You are on to something. Women aren’t people so they should have less sports to play.

  4. jkcalhoun - Feb 11, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    Business is business. I’m sorry to see baseball go at Cal, but in the current economic climate here in California I’d prefer they kept the engineering school, which does more for the economy overall.

    How many nearly major-league ready amateurs come out of collegiate programs? Let MLB sponsor them. I’m sure they’re savvy enough to make sure none of the real money goes to the athletes.

    • clydeserra - Feb 11, 2011 at 3:29 PM

      Yeah, I can’t get worked up over losing a sport at one of the best public schools in the country.

  5. spudchukar - Feb 11, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    Yes, I am sure budgetary constraints will be argued here. But I see a similarity here with the post about the kid with prosthetic legs who was cut. In a society where fewer and fewer kids are graduating from High School, tumbling academic scores, and rampant increase in juvenile incarceration, can we not find the funds to keep our kids involved in wholesome activities, that maybe, just might, help lessen a percentage of youth failures.

    • clydeserra - Feb 11, 2011 at 3:30 PM

      none of the kids going to cal have to worry about losing opportunities.

      Certainly none of the baseball players.

    • paperlions - Feb 11, 2011 at 4:09 PM

      Wholesome activities like…oh…I don’t know, studying, reading, writing, arithmaticking, learning, etc?

  6. seeingwhatsticks - Feb 11, 2011 at 4:29 PM

    Cal made the decision, probably years ago, that they needed a new football stadium more than they needed a baseball or men’s gymnastics team. I know Cal is a state school but it is pretty pathetic to think that a Pac-10 school can’t find a couple of million dollars for a baseball program that has produced some great players.

    • jkcalhoun - Feb 11, 2011 at 4:54 PM

      You haven’t been following the state of the California budget very closely, are you? Hint: we’re the huge decades-long experiment in not collecting revenue from property taxes that are commensurate with property value. One guess as to how it will come out in the end.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Feb 11, 2011 at 4:55 PM

        I’m originally from CA and follow it closely, which is why I think it’s pretty ridiculous the new stadium was a priority over these other sports.

      • jkcalhoun - Feb 11, 2011 at 7:59 PM

        I admit I don’t understand the economics of the stadium deal. I also don’t know how much TV money and other considerations the Pac-10 arrangement brings in for the University. The two may be related.

      • jhu1997 - Feb 12, 2011 at 5:35 PM

        What’s amazing is how the people who were dismissed as fearmongerers in 1978 have been proven exactly freakin’ right.

  7. ta192 - Feb 11, 2011 at 4:50 PM

    If it were the University of North Dakota, or such, I could maybe see it, but, Cal? What a disgrace! But, maybe this is just the first shot of a new economic war on the college landscape. Baseball doesn’t make the money that football and basketball do, makes it expendable if the $$$$$$$$$$ get really tight, and they might…

  8. dondbaseball - Feb 11, 2011 at 11:32 PM

    The problem is COLLEGE FOOTBALL. They have 85 scholarships and usually 10 paid coaches. The economic model for college sports is broken due to the unnecessary scholarships given. Check out the scholarships in other sports for Men: Baseball 11.7, Basketball 13, Track &Field 12.6, Golf 4.5, Gymnastics 6.3, Ice Hockey 18, Lacrosse 12.6 Soccer 9.9, Swimming 9.9, Tennis 4.5, Wrestling 9.9. Do you see something wrong with that? Footbal has 4 times coverage of starters 4x 11 x 2, Hockey has 3 times and basketball has 2.6 times. All other sports are 1:1. Tell me how college football is harmed in ANY way by cutting scholarships to 50 per school? Allow only 60 players to travel to games, cuts down on room and board. Coaches would have to actually pay attention to recruiting the “right” type of student. People will still watch, you will free up significant cash flow to support other sports. It’s just simply moronic to watch major college presidents be this stupid about running a business.

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