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Publish date: Feb 14, 2011

California will retain its women’s lacrosse, women’s gymnastics and rugby teams, which the school had planned to eliminate at the end of this academic year.

Alumni, student-athletes, coaches and fans raised an estimated $12 to $13 million, which was enough to save the teams.

The university announced that similar efforts in baseball and men’s gymnastics didn’t meet the criteria for preservation: funding to sustain the teams for the next seven to 10 years and a feasible plan for long-term financial independence.

The university will still meet its commitment to cap annual allocations to the athletics department at a maximum of $5 million annually by 2014. The school had been providing between $10 million and $15 million annually to help fund athletics, an amount that was not sustainable given reduced state funding for higher education overall.

When the cuts were announced last fall, the school requested that donors commit to providing up to $100 million in a new endowment to fund all five teams. When the response was immediate and positive, the school amended the criteria to require solid commitments for $25 million in interim funding that would have supported all five teams while long-term plans were implemented.

“We are all greatly impressed by how our community organized itself in the attempt to help these five sports and the university,” said Vice Chancellor Frank Yeary. “We are delighted that, together, we have found a path that allows us to retain the two women’s teams and our rugby program without adding costs to the strained budgets of the university and Cal athletics.”

“Sadly, the efforts did not meet these criteria insofar as baseball and men’s gymnastics are concerned,” he said. “Although the amount of money raised for these two programs is meaningful, the teams’ costs are also significant. Both programs would have needed to raise multiples of what they actually did raise to meet our criteria. In the context of both current and forecasted economic and financial conditions, we simply could not agree to short-term, stopgap measures.”

Officials said the campus’ financial challenges have grown more dismal in the last six months. The school remains committed to funding all existing scholarships on both the baseball and men’s gymnastics teams.

“While every member of the Cal athletics family is saddened by the fact that the fundraising was not sufficient to bring back all five teams,” said Athletics Director Sandy Barbour, “I want to express my great appreciation and thanks to the literally hundreds of our alumni and friends who rallied to show the kind of financial and emotional support that was necessary to make this decision possible.”