Just this afternoon, Chancellor Birgeneau e-mailed UC Berkeley's staff, students, and alumni to announce the administration's plan for a "sustainable financial future". Citing rising athletics program costs, he described a new fiscal plan that would reduce athletics funding by about 60% by 2014 and reducing the number of Intercollegiate Sports to 24, from 29. On the chopping block are lacrosse (women's), rugby (men's), gymnastics (men's and women's), and the timeless American pastime, baseball (men's). He commented only that rugby was a club sport at Cal until the early '90s - something of a cold comfort to the rugby team, and no consolation whatsoever to the others:
"This will allow rugby to compete at and maintain the same high level of national and international excellence which it currently enjoys while becoming self-sustaining. We are working through the details of this transition. These complex decisions also take into account the requirements of Title IX and of our ability to provide our student athletes with the support programs and facilities that they need to succeed and excel on and off the field."
A few thoughts come immediately to mind. Why these five, especially baseball? If rugby can not only survive, but excel, in a "self-sustaining" environment, why can't the more heavily subsidized football?
But perhaps more importantly, note the vacuous reference to Title IX, presented in typical Birgeneau fashion. As usual, he implies a problem while avoiding anything that might be construed as politically incorrect. So we'll do what he won't and just say it: the elimination of baseball and rugby is at least in part due to Title IX, proving once again that when government tries to make things fair, the unintended consequence of the policy is simply to make everyone worse off.