College

Thursday, Feb 11 2010 11:25 PM

CSUB drops 4 sports

BY JEFF EVANS, Californian staff writer

A distraught Rudy Carvajal could only talk in a whisper Thursday afternoon when he discussed Cal State Bakersfield's announcement that four sports were being dropped.

Wrestling, men's and women's golf and women's tennis will complete their current seasons, then cease to exist.

Related Info

Sport Started Savings

Wrestling 1972 $249,512

Men's golf 1997 $ 88,132

Women's golf 2007 $104,288

Women's tennis 1974 $148,013

Fringe benefits $94,360

Total $684,305

"It's the worst thing I've had to deal with in my professional career, 38 years as athletic director," Carvajal said, his voice barely audible. "Going in and talking to coaches and student athletes, telling them their programs are going to be discontinued -- it's devastating to all of us. ...

"You try to build a program the best you can, so all student athletes and coaches are like family."

The cuts stemmed from a projected $700,000 budget shortage for athletics in the 2010-11 academic year.

CSUB hadn't cut any sports since the spring of 1993 when men's tennis and men's cross country were dropped for gender equity purposes.

CSUB President Horace Mitchell announced the elimination of the sports during a budget forum late Thursday morning.

Carvajal met with the affected coaches at 9 a.m. Thursday and was scheduled to meet with the athletes from those programs late Thursday afternoon.

Mitchell said he followed the recommendation of CSUB's Intercollegiate Athletics Advisory Committee, which consists of professors, staff, community members, students, administration and athletics department personnel.

Mitchell said he received the recommendation in November but held off on making a final decision until the last two weeks as he hoped the budget outlook would improve.

"It's a decision I made," Mitchell said. "In addition to getting that recommendation, the athletics director, his staff and I have talked extensively about these possibilities."

Mitchell added: "I've come to this decision very reluctantly because this is not what we want."

This eliminates six coaches and 59 athletes from CSUB -- 36 men (27 of those wrestlers) and 23 women.

When examining which sports to drop, Mitchell said certain criteria were used.

* CSUB must maintain it's NCAA Division I eligibility, which requires at least 14 intercollegiate sports: at least eight women's programs and six men's programs. CSUB will have nine women's sports and six men's sports in 2010-11.

* CSUB would not drop any of the seven so-called "priority" sports required for membership in the Big West Conference. Currently a Division I independent, CSUB officials hope to join the BWC. Those sports are men's and women's basketball, men's and women's soccer, baseball, softball and volleyball.

* CSUB must maintain its gender equity requirements in which the number of athletes and money for athletic programs, including scholarships, mirrors the ratio of women's athletes vs. men's athletes. At CSUB, that's 65 percent women and 35 percent men.

Possible cuts for other areas of campus will be announced later, Mitchell said, adding that it was essential to inform affected athletes and coaches now so athletes have time to arrange transfers to other institutions if they opt to continue their athletic careers.

Athletes from the affected programs who give up their sport can continue at CSUB as they work toward a degree. Those on scholarship will receive scholarship aid through the 2010-11 academic year, Mitchell said.

Mitchell did offer a sliver of hope during the budget forum when assistant wrestling coach Mike Mendoza asked if the sports could be retained if money could be raised from outside the university.

Mitchell said CSUB won't mount a fundraising campaign to save the sports "because there are so many other university priorities that we're seeking outside funding for."

He said $1.4 million would need to be raised to save all four sports for two years. Saving only some of the sports isn't an option because it could throw off CSUB's gender equity numbers, Mitchell said.

"That money has to be over and above the resources required to support the other existing programs," Mitchell said. "Simply a shift of fundraising dollars from one program to another doesn't do us any good."

Head wrestling coach T.J. Kerr said through the CSUB sports information office that he would have no comment. Tennis coach Dan McCain also declined to comment. Golf coach Dave Barber could not be reached.

Mendoza said he is committed to this year's wrestling squad, which concludes its dual meet season this week before the Pac-10 Championships and NCAA Championships follow.

"But my plans are also to save the program," Mendoza said. "I'm real disappointed in the decision, obviously."

Associate athletic director Gloria Friedman, a former tennis coach who started the program in 1974, called Thursday "the saddest moment in the 30 years I've been here."

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