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May 14, 2004

Athletics At SF State Slashed By Half

FROM THE GOLDEN STATE comes the latest round of bad news for the much-touted Cal State university system.

The latest casualty is San Francisco State University, which was forced to slice its athletics budget in half—from $3 million to $1.4 million—in order to help SF State cut $22 million from its overall budget.

SF State eliminated five sports outright: men’s track, men’s and women’s swimming, women’s tennis and women’s volleyball. Reined in significantly were seven sports inflicted with “second tier” cuts: coaches will be reduced to a 40% workload and the number of assistant coaches will be reduced from 20 to 16.

Only four sports—baseball, softball, wrestling and women’s soccer—went unscathed. The carnage leaves SF State with a total of 11 teams.

Blame Arnold, blame Gray Davis, blame the state legislature, blame unchecked entitlements, blame El Nino, blame whoever / whatever; but the stark reality is that the long overdue belt tightening is taking effect.

Gargantuan cuts in the California state budget totaling $6.8 billion trickled down to $524 million coming from higher education overall, and $220 million from the Cal State system. Those are very large numbers, even for a large state like California.

At SF State, administrators struggled to mitigate the state budget cuts by garnering more money from student fees. However, students voted down a proposed increase from $24 to $33 per semester. The student nyet made draconian cuts pretty much a foregone conclusion.

Although the SF State team cuts have been the most drastic among the 22 Cal State campuses with athletics programs, several other schools have felt the pain, including:

1. Long Beach State: a $500,000 deficit forecast for next year
2. Sacramento State: the football team's future rides on a huge student fee increase
3. San Jose State: new president might eliminate football
4. Humboldt State: 2004-2005 budget reduced by $226,000
5. Cal State Chico: student fees are down $100,000

Budget crises like these exacerbate the recurrent debates for and against college athletics. Anti-athletics factions have gained some top spin for now. However, it won’t be long until the football season yields another round of alumni giving and college athletics will get another shot in the arm.

(this 367 word excerpt—with accompanying commentary--was distilled from a 736 word San Francisco Chronicle article of 5-14-04 and a 440 word article from The Chronicle of Higher Education of 5-14-04, as well as background information from Los Angeles Times articles from 3-31-04 and 4-23-04)