UC Berkeley hires $75K consultant to help cut costs in Cal Athletics

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Chancellor Carol Christ hired Collegiate Sports Associates, or CSA, a sports consulting and search firm, on Nov. 15 to help cut costs and create revenue in Cal Athletics as the department faces concerns about its long-term financial sustainability.

CSA’s team is led by Bradley Bates, CSA vice president of consulting and former Boston College athletic director. Its contract is for $75,000 plus expenses, which campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said in an email he expects not to eclipse $15,000. Those costs are being covered by private donors, Christ said in a campuswide message. An external review of Cal Athletics was recommended by the 2017 report of the Chancellor’s Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletics.

According to a memo on the consulting firm, CSA will also “develop additional recommendations for the Intercollegiate Athletics department to build a long-term sustainable financial model for (Cal Athletics).”

Multiple attempts to contact CSA were not responded to as of press time.

CSA faces a tall order, as Cal Athletics’ financial situation has worsened in recent years. The department needed two bailouts of about $20 million to balance its budget in the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years. The football program, traditionally the department’s moneymaker, saw a 22 percent drop in attendance this season as well.

Cal Athletics faces huge interest payments from debt incurred from the 2012 renovation of Memorial Stadium and construction of its athletics complex. In total, Cal Athletics holds more than $400 million in debt, the most of any athletic department in the country.

In November, Christ announced that she planned for the central campus to assume some of the department’s debt stemming from the stadium’s seismic retrofitting costs in exchange for campus developing on Edwards Stadium, currently home to the soccer and track and field programs. The amount of debt the campus plans to take on was not yet determined, Christ said at the time.

The firm comes as Cal Athletics also searches for a new leader, as athletic director Mike Williams said he plans to step down in May 2018.

Austin Weinstein covers academics and administration. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @austwein.