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California-Berkeley Donations Save Women’s Lacrosse, Gymnastics

The University of California, Berkeley, hit by state funding cuts, didn’t get enough private donations to preserve its baseball and men’s gymnastics teams after this season. It got more than $12 million in pledges to keep rugby, women’s gymnastics and women’s lacrosse.

By saving the women’s lacrosse and gymnastics teams, the university avoided a possible violation of Title IX, a federal gender-equality law that has been used to push for greater athletic opportunities for women.

“By offering all of our women’s sports, we can meet the requirements of Title IX in a way that will allow the return of men’s sports, provided that the returned sports can cover all direct and indirect costs,” Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau said in a statement.

University officials have set a goal of capping annual allocations for intercollegiate athletics at $5 million by 2014. Baseball and men’s gymnastics will be dropped at the end of the academic year in May.

In September, the school announced it would eliminate intercollegiate teams in men’s and women’s gymnastics, women’s lacrosse and baseball -- and drop rugby to club level -- unless private donors pledged to save those programs. The university said it would require sufficient funding to support teams for the next seven years, as well as a plan for future financial independence.

Baseball is Out

“Sadly, the efforts did not meet these criteria insofar as baseball and men’s gymnastics are concerned,” Vice Chancellor Frank Yeary said in a statement released by the school. “Both programs would have needed to raise multiples of what they actually did raise to meet our criteria.”

California’s budget crisis has led to funding reductions for higher education, and Governor Jerry Brown in January proposed additional cuts of $500 million from the University of California’s budget. Berkeley is one of 10 campuses in the University of California system.

“As state disinvestment in higher education continues, the university cannot continue to provide intercollegiate athletics with annual allocations in the $10 million to $15 million range,” the university said today in a news release.

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