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March 31, 2004

Cuts Will Impact California Athletics Substantially

FROM THE AFTERMATH OF THE DEPOSED GOVERNOR DAVIS comes troubling news of near-draconian across-the-board budget cuts in California.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed 2004-05 budget includes cuts of half a billion (with a “b”) dollars coming from higher education. Athletic programs would be cut by approximately 10%.

California’s state universities are not alone in their financial woes. NCAA spokesperson Kay Hawes reports that only 40 of 1266 NCAA members operate profitably.

U Cal and Cal State administrators clearly have money on their minds: how to bring in more; and how to spend less.

Fund raising activities range from the conventional fundraising walks, summer camps, barbecues and silent auctions, on to the more creative: EBay auctions for away game trips, food festivals, sponsorship of race horses. Many schools are proposing increased student fees to help defray athletics cuts.

Meanwhile, cost-cutting schemes abound. Aside from hiring freezes, layoffs and cutting sports, schools are implementing shorter seasons, paring travel costs and looking for more volunteers to help run their programs.

What’s next? Bake sales, car washes and selling candy?

None of the colleges are looking to reinstate football as a potential money-maker. After Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Chico and Long Beach State terminated their football programs in the 90s, football survives at only six of the 22 Cal State campuses with athletics.

The near term future looks bleak. While UCLA and Berkeley have financial reserves to weather the storm, the dozens of other schools in the California state system will be forced into a period of retrenchment and adjustment.

The golden era of intercollegiate athletics in the Golden State has ended.

(this 268 word excerpt was sourced from a 1518 word article in the Los Angeles Times of 3-31-04)