Editor’s note: On April 16, the UC Davis Athletic Department cut four Intercollegiate teams. As part of a four-part series, The California Aggie will examine how these cuts will affect the student athletes, the coaches and the future of each sport. While several factors such as conference affiliation, Title IX regulations and budgetary constraints determined which sports were cut, this series will concentrate solely on the impact felt by those directly affected. Women’s rowing is part one in this series.
Caleigh Guoynes doesn’t know if she can come back to UC Davis next year.
“There’s no job that I can get that I will make $20,000 in a year,” she said.
Guoynes, a sophomore genetics major and coxswain for the UC Davis women’s rowing team, is in the same boat as many of her teammates. The team is questioning the uncertain future of not only its sport, but the individual lives of the student athletes after the announcement of the cut.
Guoynes’ story may be like many other athletes. She was recruited from Michigan and given a $5,000 scholarship by verbal agreement that was to increase by $5,000 till her senior year. She received an extra $5,000 her sophomore year through another scholarship. Although the original scholarship will be carried throughout her four years, the additional increase is still negotiable.
“I think it’s frustrating that the administration isn’t listening to individual students. It’s not just the sport but their education and their plans for the future,” Guoynes said.
With the high price of an out-of-state tuition, and with the lack of another scholarship, Guoynes is not certain if she will be able to afford to stay at UC Davis for much longer.
Even if she is to remain in Davis, she wouldn’t be able to participate on a potential club team.
“I would need to get a job…I wouldn’t be able to afford the expenses of staying on the club team,” she said.
She said it wouldn’t be feasible to maintain school, a job and rowing because of the time commitment.
“I was just starting to get rowing and what a coxswain does. I now really won’t have the opportunity to excel at it. I’ll never have the chance to get better, to be on the water again,” Guoynes said.
Her teammate Emily Roberts, a first-year psychology major and bow-seat on the varsity A squad, feels similar frustrations.
“It’s hard now to go to a school that cut my sport, raised my tuition and cut classes,” Roberts said. “I’m really disappointed in the school. It hasn’t been what I’d hoped.”
Roberts said that she still doesn’t completely understand how the decision was made to cut her team.
“I don’t think that’s fair. Why would they cut an entire team of girls? I think it’s sad that they would cut a 30-year sport that has been doing well,” Roberts said.
The Aggies recently captured three medals at the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships and took home the Jean Runyon Cup after beating Sacramento State.
Roberts thinks, however, that she will continue with the club team if possible.
Much like her players, coach Carissa Adams also does not see the logic in eliminating a team of so many women.
“To cut a team of 73 on the women’s side is a huge thing,” Adams said. “It makes a statement to the female student athletes on campus that maybe they are not as valued as male athletes.”
According to Adams, men’s indoor track was only cut in an attempt to minimize the damage.
“That’s what makes this pretty depressing,” she said.
Adams, too, is unsure of her future, especially as a coach. She will be talking this week with administration to see if the possibility of a club team will be available. Her contract expires June 30 and she has not made a decision yet if she will stay on as a rowing coach at the club level.
The hardest part of being a club, Adams said, would be getting sufficient competition.
“No one wants to play against a club team and run the risk of losing. Without the umbrella of [the Intercollegiate program], turning up some kind of competition for the team is going to be pretty challenging,” Adams said.
Adams suggested to the administration to cut scholarships out of the mix.
“We can be just as successful without our scholarship money.”
The team runs on an approximate operating budget of $70,000 to $80,000 a year, according to Adams. Around $40,000 of that goes towards van travel, which Adams said goes right back to the university.
This season, the team raced in eight meets and traveled once, taking 27 members to San Diego.
On March 2, the athletes were told to raise funds for long-terms goals if they wanted to keep their sport. The amount to raise was “unrealistic,” Adams said: $5 million without endowments and around $16 million with endowments.
“I think it was a way to discourage coaches from trying,” Adams said.
She said prospects look dire to get the team back to ICA at this point without the full-fledged support of students.
“It’s really difficult to bring a sport back once it’s been cut. But I’m a firm believer in rooting for the underdog and thinking that social change can happen,” Adams said. “I think it will be up to the student athletes and the student body to say if they agree with the decision or not.”
ANGELA RUGGIERO can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.