Chancellor Carol Christ announces men’s roster spots likely to be reduced

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Chancellor Carol Christ announced in a campuswide email Thursday morning that roster spots for men’s sports will likely be reduced to shift UC Berkeley’s Title IX policy compliance by 2021.

Christ’s email comes after Collegiate Sports Associates, or CSA, the sports consulting and search firm Christ hired in November 2017, released its report after a review of Cal’s athletic department.

This report includes a survey completed by 367 individuals, the main takeaway being that 86 percent of those respondents expressed a desire to consider changes to the current sponsorship of 30 sports.

Cal currently abides by Prong 3 of Title IX compliance, which supports gender equity by requiring schools to add sports for the underrepresented gender when sufficient interest, ability and opportunity arises.

Instead of continuing to comply with this prong — Christ writes that this “seems unwise” — Christ has decided to shift to Prong 1 of Title IX compliance by 2021.

Prong 1 is satisfied by providing proportionate participation opportunities for both male and female student-athletes. For Cal to transition without adding sports and still remain compliant, roster spots for men’s sports will likely be reduced.

In addition to shifting to Prong 1, Christ says there must be a commitment to gender equity in its facilities for men and women. This will be achieved by immediately building courts for beach volleyball and improving softball’s facilities.

Christ noted that Cal already has difficulty sustaining its 30 Division 1 sports, but cutting sports will be a “last resort.”

Christ re-emphasized that the athletic department must have a balanced budget by 2020, the same year campus must have a balanced budget.

CSA’s report also discussed other matters, including proposed strategies for campus to consider implementing, ways to cut costs and generate revenue, the status of facilities and areas of investment.

Proposed strategies

CSA proposed that the campus should consider implementing institutional alignment, where there is a shared understanding of a mission centered on the “overarching aim of student-athlete holistic development.”

Additionally, the firm noted the need for a clearly and “unapologetically” defined set of goals and expectations, rather than what it sees as “competing communications.”

CSA also laid out the expectations of Cal’s next athletic director, who will likely be chosen in April. Among these expectations are being a skilled fundraiser with interpersonal, management and mentoring skills.

The next athletic director will also need to manage a multitude of responsibilities such as coaching, business operations and sales, among others.

Cost saving

CSA’s recommendations in regards to cost saving are broken up into two main sections: institutional procedures and staff.

Institutional procedures

CSA cited that paying in-state tuition for athletic scholarships does not increase campus expenses and can help reduce the budget by at least $1 million annually.

The firm also noted that processes between athletics and campus can be improved. CSA added that it would be beneficial for athletics and the CFO’s office to have regular or quarterly budget reviews.

Staff

CSA concluded that athletics is overstaffed in some areas but understaffed in others, with most of the understaffing coming from areas of student support.

In particular, sports medicine is understaffed, with certain individuals receiving only two or three days off in an entire semester.

A partnership between athletics, the Student Health Center and a private medical organization has the potential to expand the breadth of resources but would not reduce expenses, according to the firm.

The firm noted that there are areas in the athletic department that are redundant with campus personnel, and that eliminating these redundancies could save costs.

Given several currently vacant positions, the athletic director has the opportunity to restructure the department in ways that could save costs as well, according to the report.

CSA added that Cal should develop an annual assessment program that identifies talented staff and develops a plan to retain said individuals.

The firm also suggested that the new athletic director should consider other areas to outsource partnerships to further cut costs.

Revenue opportunities

In addition to saving money, CSA suggested multiple avenues to generate revenue. CSA noted, however, that some of these strategies “may challenge the University’s long-standing concerns regarding commercialism.”

This section features two time frames: by FY20 and FY21 and beyond.

By FY20

CSA spelled out that naming rights for California Memorial Stadium could generate as much as $4.1 million annually and that off-campus, weeknight home games could generate $2 million every other year.

The firm also wrote that a new tailgate area and restructuring of current parking policies could generate $200,000 annually apiece. CSA built a 3 percent growth in ticket sales into future projections, citing the figure as a realistic minimum.

The addition of an Intercollegiate Athletics Advisory Board could also increase annual revenue, according to the report.

Beyond FY21

CSA cited other revenue opportunities, such as alcohol sales, advertising, beverage partnerships, student fees and non-vehicular tailgating, among others.

The firm also suggested an “Endowment Campaign.” This campaign can be broken up into phases that target athletic scholarships, coaches’ compensation and benefits, travel and lodging, equipment and practice and competition facilities.

Facilities

CSA noted that the revenue potential for football and men’s basketball is far greater than that of other sports and should be supported appropriately.

The firm wrote that there are issues in regards to equity, health and safety, and the experiences of student-athletes, which need to be addressed. To address these issues, it suggested a capital campaign to ensure that student-athletes have the appropriate facilities to develop.

CSA also recommended evaluating Edwards Stadium and possible alternatives for the site, such as academic resources, student housing, retail space and/or renovated athletic venues.

Investment

CSA included multiple areas in which to invest, including football and men’s basketball, resources, facility maintenance and nutrition.

Regarding football and men’s basketball, the firm has included an initial annual investment of $1 million which increases over time in budget projections.

Justice delos Santos is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jdelossantos510

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