Finances trumped sports last Thursday when the UC Berkeley division of the Academic Senate passed a resolution to cease campus funding for the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.
In a 91-68 vote, the senate recommended that the department move toward self-reliance in funding. The department projected a deficit of $5.8 million for 2008-2009. The projected figures for 2009-2010 indicate a $6.4 million shortfall.
In 2008-2009, total revenues were $58-59 million while expenses hovered at $64.9 million. The university provided $7.7 million of campus support for the department in registration fees and chancellor funds. The remaining 89 percent of the department’s budget came from ticket sales, corporate sponsorships, television rights fees, fundraising and endowment income.
Faculty stressed that the resolution aimed to place academics at the forefront in light of UC Berkeley’s budget troubles. The campus faces a $150 million deficit this year.
“This resolution is not about athletes or athletics,” said Laura Nader, professor of anthropology at UC Berkeley in an interview with The Daily Californian. “The resolution is about priorities … Will our world-class public university put entertainment ahead of education?”
UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said he would seriously consider the Academic Senate’s motion and that he would work with the athletic department to make it possible.
“Although it is advisory, we will, of course, take very seriously the Academic senate’s recommendation and will consider the most effective way to move forward,” chancellor Robert Birgeneau said in an interview with the Cal Bear Athletic News.
“We are very concerned about this year’s shortfall and are already working on containing athletics deficits. We share the Academic Senate’s goal of achieving a self-supporting athletics program, although that will take time to realize.”
Athletes, however, are precisely concerned with one thing. Football players were less concerned by the specific implications of the resolution.
“We’re just worried about playing football,” said football representatives.
The UC Davis Division Academic Senate (UCDAS) has not included a similar resolution on their “issues under review,” and has no comment on the Berkeley-specific resolution, said Gina Anderson, executive director of the UCDAS.
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