Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I can see the tombstone now: “Loyal Golden Bears” R.I.P.

Of course, I’m old—a Luddite—an anachronism in today’s world where we actively recruit and yearn to increase the number of out-of-state students, because they return a bigger profit. I come from a time when the University was in place to benefit California Tax payers—not residents of other states to the detriment to my neighbors.

The Chancellor and many in the administration openly boast that over 40% of our students have one parent which is foreign born. As long as kids are getting in on merit, I don’t personally care where their parents are born—as long as they are California residents and tax payers. Isn’t that what Land Grant Universities were originally about?

They say we are running a deficit of $10,000,000 to $13,000,000. They want to get down to $5,000,000 by 2014. So we have to save $5,000,000 to $6,000,000 million.

Well let’s see. Larry Scott, the new president of the Pac 12 is on record as saying that the new TV contract should be north of $100,000,000. I’ve heard (this is unverified) that the current one is $70,000,000 and some expect to double it to $140,000,000. That comes to around $9,000,000 to $12,000,000 per school.

The vaunted championship game (two divisions of six teams—another thing which goes against our grain, but what can we do about it?), will generate around $10,000,000 or about $1,000,000 per school.

Seems to me the creation of the Pac 12 takes care of the Chancellor’s request to save $5,000,000 to $6,000,000 million with another $5,000,000 or so to spare.

Won’t the new Stadium increase revenues? If not, why are we building it?

So what is really going on?

I haven’t a clue. But I can guess.

All the bureaucratic gibberish in the world can’t hide the fact that our University—the Greatest in the world—the one we love so much is punishing and failing to reward Rugby—the poster child for meritocracy in sport at the University level—and I mean at any institution anywhere in the country—-pardon—-world.

The program is clean. The kids graduate. Their G.P.A is outstanding. They give back to the school. They are the face of California—standing proud in their Big C Sweaters. Rugby has no Reggie Bush or even DeSean Jackson scandals.

They give us all this while winning national championships to boot.

Rugby epitomizes the University’s (former) commitment to excellence.

Lack of funds is a University wide problem. It is not limited to athletics. Our University budget is double either what it was 10 years ago or 5 years ago (at my age I can’t remember which). Point is: Are we twice as good as we were back then?

Anyone know what a professor emeritus costs us?

But we should be about academics first and foremost. Were that the case, I could sympathize with the Chancellor.

But these are the facts: My daughter just graduated. For her final in Peace and Conflict Studies, she had to make a sock doll for an Afghan orphanage. I’m happy she’s helping kids, but I’m not sure it’s much of an academic exercise.

In her “Diversity class” each week they would hold “Asian week”, “Black week”, “White Week”, “Gay week” etc. where a representative of that group would stand at the chalk board while members of the class hurled racial epithets and stereotypes which were to be written down.

This is education? And we’re paying for it?

If the Chancellor would cut just those two classes and fire the “professors” and T.A.’s we could have more than enough money to support any shortfall in Rugby.

Also not mentioned were any savings coming from the way the Athletic department does business and monitors expenses. The Chancellor’s advisory committee expressly mentioned:

(1) The lack of budgetary controls within IA ( Intercollegiate Athletics) and the failure of IA to impose discipline on spending by teams and other operations.
I didn’t see any reference to how much we were going to save due to tighter financial oversight. Why? A 10% "tightening" would save a million bucks--20% of the Chancellor's goal.

We have some of the finest athletic teams, across the board, in the country. Rugby is just one of them—-and perhaps our finest example. (I know Water Polo, Crew, and Softball among others would argue—-and perhaps they’re right—-but they ain’t being penalized. We are. What’s being done to baseball is criminal—-but I think some of the major leaguers could step up some.)

The Chancellor released a list of 11 criteria upon which teams were judged and decisions made.

Financial impact
• History of competitive success
• Ability to comply with Title IX and the principles of gender equity
• Donor impact
• Opportunities for NCAA and Pac-10 success
• Contributions to student-athlete diversity
• Student-athlete opportunities
• Utilization of support services
• Contributions to the Directors’ Cup
• Contributions to the Athletic Department mission
• Prevalence of local and regional varsity competition

As to history and tradition, when my Grandfather and Robert Gordon Sproul attended Rugby games together in 1912 the sport had been a varsity sport for 30 years. Have we lost our minds or simply our sense of values?

No need to mention competitive success.

Three of the criteria: Title IX, Pac-10 success, Director’s Cup, we have no control over. In areas which we have control we rate a 10 on a 10 point scale.

To not reward that kind of Meritocracy is “No way to run an Airline.” It’s no way to run a school, an athletic department, a business or a family. We are about rewarding performance and merit—-not punishing it. The Chancellor should set the example.

(I thought the other night, that there is no way a college football team is going to make a game winning field goal in the 4th quarter if it represents an institution which would even consider cutting or punishing a sport as meritorious as Rugby—-but felt it was a bit obtuse for folks to grasp. Now I’m sure of it).

Attitudes start from the top.

In short there is absolutely no justification for cutting Rugby in any way shape or form—-unless something else is going on.

I will leave it to you to figure out what that is, but I thought we were about excellence, not being Equal to UCLA in sports. I thought we were about excellence not parity in expenditures for sports medicine. I thought we were about rewarding excellence at the college level, not making sure everyone gets a trophy.

We are most often referred to as “Loyal old Blues” or “Loyal Golden Bears.” No one talks about the “Loyal Trojans” of SC or “Loyal” Indians (or however they refer to themselves) at Stanford.

“Loyal” isn’t our middle name. It’s our first name. It's a concept the Chancellor hasn't seemed to grasp.

We are not vindictive. We are not pulling our football seats or basketball tickets, or the Warren Family Scholarship for Women’s Tennis. But we're small potatoes. They don't care about us.

I wonder, however, about families like the Witters. I’ve known them all my life. Not only are they the first name in Rugby, but I think they give something like 20 academic scholarships to boot--maybe more--and sue me if it's less.

For generations they have given--often when no one else was. This is an obscene slap in the face to them. Ought they to continue? Seems to me someone has to give them an important reason why.

The Chancellor’s actions are an act of disloyalty to all such loyal golden bears.
He needs to do a 180—-fast—-if he ever wants to earn the moniker Loyal Golden Bear.

It’s one many of us wear proudly.

One can’t expect loyalty without giving it.

This isn’t over.

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70


Teacher at Berkeley said...

This is a difficult time at the University, and the change of status of any traditional sport at Cal raises passions among supporters. But the reality is that the campus could not continue to subsidize the operations of intercollegiate athletics. Football at Cal, without national championship caliber performance or outrageous ticket prices for home games, cannot sustain and subsidize the number of sports we currently have. Those annual subsidies from the campus general fund since 1990, are staggering. In the same way that academic research has often needed to go out and obtain extra-mural support, student activities, particularly those with relatively small constituent bases, will of necessity need to consider a similar effort. Consider the A.S.U.C. which is required to generate its own support, and was forced in the 1990s to eliminate its then debt or be taken over by the campus. It did so, and must continue to do so. Athletics does not live in a vacuum on the campus, and must be compared to other priorities. Some may see this as an attack on individual sports or on traditions at Cal, but it is also about balancing a whole community in an era when the public has chosen to reduce overall support to the institution. Every part of the campus is feeling this adjustment. Use of discretionary funds may have greater applications in the broad based scheme of things than some of us would like to accept. I hope that Cal sports like baseball and rugby will be able to secure resources and to continue; at least Rugby can already return to a status it enjoyed prior to 1990. But the legal considerations for Title 9 are real, and the law. Those are also part of our community, and like other issues of fairness, must be part of the campus’ considerations. Just one perspective.

james clifford said...

Well said. Title IX was one of the greatest "stealth laws" in mass media history. Notice you never see "separate but equal" in Title IX copy.

Ralph said...

Teacher at Berkeley.

You are missing the point of Mr. Warren's post.

The campus leadership has missed an oppourtunity to showcase an economically sustainable and successful athletic program which promotes the university's values.

Demoting Cal Rugby to club status sends a message to the remaining University sponsored teams that excellence is not rewarded and opperating within economically sustainable means matter, but only some of the time.

There are other sports which could have released more department overhead which are not nearly as economically sustainable as Cal Rugby.

As it is, I am confident that if the Rugby team's demotion is not reversed the University will find out just how much this institution means to the many donors who support both your salary as a teacher and the athletic department in general.