Kyle Terada / USA TODAY Sports

Chancellor's Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletics holds invitation-only town hall, donors and coaches do not know what to expect

The Chancellor's Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletics -- a body which could recommend, and, multiple sources say, will recommend, cutting sports -- will hold an invite-only town hall meeting in the middle of the the penultimate working Monday of the year to speak with donors and alumni.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks's Chancellor's Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletics, a group that is set to determine the scope and scale (i.e., the cutting of teams and/or reductions in roster sizes) and financial state of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, is holding a town hall-style meeting on Monday, Dec. 19, at 2 p.m., according to an e-mail obtained by BearTerritory, but several donors -- including top donors to vulnerable programs -- as well as at least two coaches of vulnerable programs, were not informed of the "invitation-only" event.

That task force announced in an e-mail sent to "alumni and donors" on Dec. 2 that it would hold a town hall meeting -- the first purportedly public access to the task force -- but is holding that meeting ("more of a listening session," said one Cal spokesman) in the middle of a work day, close to the winter holidays, during Winter Break.

"I have three top donors, and they should at least be top of the list, and they didn't get it," said one women's coach, who requested anonymity. "A lot of my alumni did not [get the email]. I felt obliged to forward it to my alumni. If they wanted it to go to donors and alumni, it's a really poor effort."

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A 2012 report by Cal alumni working for Bain & Company, as a sort of pro-bono supplement to the $7.5 million full, campus-wide cost-cutting report done by Bain & Company in 2009, noted the need for deeper donor engagement in the wake of cutting five sports in 2010, as well as improved transparency "by improving the frequency and quality of communications with all of the department's key stakeholders, including alumni, faculty, students and the campus administration."

The meeting is not open to the media, according to campus spokesman Dan Mogulof, and has been timed as it has because of the schedules of the various academic members of the group, as well as to meet an end-of-year deadline for information gathering.

The Task Force is charged with solving the Athletics piece of a massive structural deficit for the Campus, with Athletics running a projected $21.76 million in the red.

The structural budget deficit for Campus was, as of February, projected to be $150 million, and could have grown to $170 million, had nothing been done, but is now on track to meet a target of $110 million for June, 2017. Interim executive vice chancellor and provost Carol Christ said in November that Campus had cut $9 million from "specific units, including Athletics," and $30 million in "deferred capital expenses."

A major portion of the Athletics deficit is due to the debt service on the capital expense that was the renovation of California Memorial Stadium, as well as factors out of Athletics' control, in part due to NCAA rule changes, the University's internal taxation policy, changes in University compensation practices and a memorandum of understanding that has cost the University (and Athletics) millions.

Next fiscal year, the Campus is looking to cut an additional $54 million, after cutting approximately $60 million during this most recent fiscal year, with the hope that revenue generation will meet "at least half the target," according to Christ.

It is important here to note the distinction between Campus/University and Cal/Athletics. Campus/the University refers to the administration of UC Berkeley. Cal/Athletics refers to the athletic administration, the teams, coaches and, as a whole, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Could Sports Be Cut?

The task force counts among its 12-member roster a single former athlete and the current Athletic Director as the only two members with hands-on experience with intercollegiate athletics, and does not include the Associate Athletic Director for Development, Jeremy Wang.

A source close to both Campus and Athletics confirmed that the recommendation of cutting of sports "is a certainty," a sentiment shared by multiple sources in the department and in the donor/stakeholder community.

“We know something’s coming, and it’s not going to be totally pleasant for men’s sports," said Stuart Gordon, a Cal baseball alum, and one of the donors who helped engineer the fundraising effort that saved the program back in 2011.

Any cut to women's sports would require an even greater cut among men's teams, because of the way in which Cal currently complies with Title IX. Currently, the Bears satisfy Prong 3 of Title IX: Demonstrate a continual expansion of athletic opportunities for the underrepresented sex. In laymen's terms, Cal cannot cut women's sports; only add them, as the Bears did by adding lacrosse in 1998, and sand volleyball in 2015.

Cal cannot satisfy that prong if any women's sports are cut, so, the Bears would have to abide by one of the other two prongs, if indeed women's sports are eliminated: Provide athletic participation opportunities that are substantially proportionate to the undergraduate enrollment; or fully accommodate the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex.

That means proportionality -- participation within 1-2% of enrollment proportions. Currently, UC Berkeley has an enrollment composed of 51.7% female undergraduates, and 47.4% male undergraduates. According to the latest athletics participation data, Cal currently lists 538 male participants in Athletics (57.8%), and 393 female participants. If the school were, for instance, to cut the smallest women's sport -- golf, with 10 women -- that would require a corresponding cut of 180 men's spots to get in line with enrollment numbers.

"Not a single decision has been made, and not a single recommendation has been formed or offered by the Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletics," Mogulof said. "The chairs of the task force have made it very clear that there are no foregone conclusions, even though they feel an obligation to ensure that every option is on the table. People shouldn't rush to a conclusion about what form their recommendations could take. It could be a very specific set of recommendations that are designed to reach a very specific financial target, and it could also be a menu of options that leadership would need to choose from."

According to Cal's most recent expenditure report, available at the U.S. Department of Education's database, Athletics spent $76,348,304 in grand total expenses in the last year, with 30 sports (according to the Department of Education's Equity in Athletics Data Analysis). Peer university UCLA spent $96,912,767 on athletics during the same period, with 23 sports. Fewer sports, then, does not necessarily mean less money spent.

One key difference that has allowed the Bruins to stay financially solvent is that UCLA has endowed 197 of the 282 NCAA allowable athletic grants-in-aid, with the Four Deep initiative (created in 1988) seeking to endow four scholarships at each position for UCLA football, for instance.

Cal has moved towards that model, which is insulated from the ebbs and flows of revenue generated by football, and one of the recommendations from the Task Force may very well be to move entirely to that model.

In the email invitation to the town hall meeting sent out on Dec. 2, task force members Robert O'Donnell -- the Chair Emeritus of the UC Berkeley Foundation -- and Robert Powell, the Chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate, announced that the Chancellor's Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletics would be holding the town hall-style meeting "for Athletics donors to gather input."

Mogulof told BearTerritory that over 10,000 emails were sent out "to all who donated to IA in the last two years; Endowment Seating Program participants; and other donors who have made significant contributions to IA over time," and, based on past experiences, Mogulof said, "we expect about 150 people to show up."

Of five prominent donors initially contacted by BearTerritory, four said they had not received the e-mail. Three of the four donors, upon searching their spam folders, found the notification, after being informed of the existence of the email by BearTerritory. The one remaining donor is in the "high six-figure" level of donation, he has said.

"It is, however, possible," Mogulof said, "that some folks in these categories did not receive an invite, depending on the preferences they chose regarding email communications from campus."

The meeting is scheduled to occur at Stanley Hall, Room 150, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. -- the middle of the penultimate working Monday before the end of the year.

"That's the biggest complaint I've gotten from my donors: 'Are you kidding me? I work,'" said one women's coach. "We assume that's intentional." "The timing was a function of the task force’s timeline/progress; campus meeting space availability; the availability of task force members who include staff, faculty, and alumni; and their intention to complete the gathering of information, ideas, and perspectives before the end of the calendar year," Mogulof said. "It’s worth noting that the task force meets regularly at 2pm on Monday's, so this time is usually free for most of them. So, same reason they had the town hall for faculty at the same time on December 5th."

One Cal donor said the timing "proves just how out-of-touch they are with the donor community."

The current Task Force on Athletics, convened in August of 2016, is comprised of Powell, O'Donnell, Lisa Alvarez-Cohen (Fred and Claire Sauer Professor of Environmental Engineering), Lishelle Blakemore (Executive Director of Annual Giving/Interim Executive Director Major Gifts and Corporate and Foundation Relations), Brad Brian (Berkeley Fellow; Attorney for Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP), Patricia Dechow (Professor in Public Accounting Haas Accounting Group), Khira Griscavage (Associate Chancellor, member of the Chancellor's Cabinet), Chris Kutz (Berkeley Law professor, whose works  focuses on moral, political and legal philosophy), Rich Lyons (Dean of the Haas School of Business), Caitlin Smith (Former Cal swimmer and Olympian), Nadine Trang (Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology and UC Berkeley Foundation Trustee) and Athletic Director Mike Williams.

Powell, Kurtz, and O'Donnell were a part of the 2009 Chancellor's Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics, which also counted major donor Robert Haas among its members. The current Task Force has no such donor representation. It must be noted that the University took the 2009 Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics report, and then cut four sports (baseball, men's and women's gymnastics and women's lacrosse), with one (rugby) reduced to varsity club status. All of those cuts were reversed.

Three coaches -- one men's, and two women's -- contacted by BearTerritory are heading up programs that could very well be in danger of cuts.

"We're all feeling vulnerable right now," said one women's coach. "Especially the non-rev sports."

"I’m working on the 20-year endowment for Cal baseball, to raise somewhere between $15 to $20 million, and I can’t do anything until I hear from the task force, what’s happening to the Cal baseball program," Gordon said.

The current baseball endowment is being managed by the University.

"If they're doing a good job with it, and get a good rate of return, that's good, and they've been running our money since we saved the Cal baseball program in 2011," Gordon said. "In a few years, they've made some pretty decent money, and a few years, thy haven't made much of any money. It looks like last year, we didn't do very well, as far as financial return, even though the stock market did very well. But, two other times, they did really well."

Gordon and two other sources close to the Cal Baseball Foundation verified that the current baseball endowment will run out after the 2018 season, unless more money can be raised. The complication: No donors want to chip in for the 20-year endowment, while the Task Force has not yet made any recommendations pertaining to the scope of the athletic program.

"I think that's somewhat true, but there are people like me, who are charged with raising the money, and we can't go out and raise the money until I know what's happening here," Gordon said. "I just know from my discussions with baseball people who support Cal, or who want to support Cal, most are reluctant to contribute to an endowment program, unless they know that, indeed, Cal baseball is going to be around for some period of time in the future."

The former Bears left-handed pitcher and partner at the law firm of Gordon & Rees (the general consul for the University of California) told BearTerritory that he and other donors were frustrated about the lack of communication between the school and the major donors.

"I just think we just don’t know enough about what’s going on [with the task force]," Gordon said, during a wide-ranging conversation that covered football, baseball and other topics. "A lot of us [donors] feel that way. There's so much going on in Athletics at UC Berkeley ... that we just don't know about, because of lack of communication."

The frustration stems, in part, from the fact that the donor group had seen this before.

“The communication [in 2010] was, ‘The sports are cut,’" Gordon said. "There was no prelude, which is what I was really upset about.”

This time, the mere existence of a town hall meeting is more prelude than the donor community received in the run-up to the Sept, 28, 2010 sport reduction announcement.

“Yeah, but I don’t know if the prelude is coming more from us or more from anything coming out of the Task Force," Gordon said.

Deja Vus

The last time Cal cut sports in 2010, the administration was still working off the old, untenable model of stadium financing, which did not have the multiple income streams the current model has -- rent from tenants, field naming rights, non-football event revenue -- and estimated that the cut of sports would save the campus $4 million annually.

Even cutting 16 individual sports -- the most that could cut without the Bears going under the 14-sport NCAA limit -- in light of such a large structural Campus deficit, a source close to the Athletic Department said, "is like cutting your toenails to lose weight."

Cutting sports, while saving money in the short term, risks losing money, long term, due to donor backlash. That backlash already likely harmed the initial ESP sales, which coincided with the cutting of rugby, baseball, men's and women's gymnastics and women's lacrosse.

The 2009 Chancellor's Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics report, in its conclusion, stated that it "is far preferable to cut costs without cutting teams, rather than to cut teams," and that cutting teams "could have significant repercussions for philanthropic support of the campus as a whole." While the members of that council were not in agreement of the magnitude or duration of the philanthropic "blowback," then Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy's estimate of $25 million annually was "sobering."

The current task force's charge from Dirks (in a letter obtained by BearTerritory, dated Aug. 16, 2016), is to answer the following questions:

  • For each element of IA's program, what are the costs and benefits to campus?
  • How do the requirements of Title IX affect our choices about how to reshape the program?
  • Given the costs, benefits and regulatory constraints, what is the appropriate scale and scope for the total program?
  • In addition to the scale and scope, are other changes, e.g., organizational or structural, needed to achieve financial stability?
  • How much will the campus need to invest on an ongoing basis in order to sustain IA at this new level?

If that looks familiar, it's because the 2009 Chancellor's Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics under Robert Birgeneau was charged with an almost identical agenda:

  1. Understand the recent and current financial and competitive state of our Intercollegiate Athletics Program.
  2. Assess alternative approaches to putting our IA program on a financially sustainable path. Financial sustainability does not equate to complete self-sufficiency in the foreseeable future, but it does require a model whereby the IA department will consistently generate revenues (including campus support) that meet or exceed its expenses.
  3. Assess possible impacts of changes in the scope of IA on philanthropy to our academic programs.
  4. With respect to the most promising alternatives, the Council will develop a short list for [the Chancellor] to consider, including the pros and cons of each.

The final report from that council, (available here: PDF icon IA-Council-Report.pdf) was submitted in July of 2009. Some of the conclusions?

" ... the Council agrees that a robust IA program is compatible with the values of an elite American research university, that it adds a valuable dimension to students' academic and social experiences, and that its part of Berkeley’s specific traditions and histories is worth preserving ..."

The report noted that of the 53 largest individual donors to campus, "roughly half" support Intercollegiate Athletics as a part of their gifts, and "that many donors to IA are even more generous with their gifts to academics."

Campus commissioned the $7.5 million Bain & Company report in 2009 -- which makes cost-cutting recommendations that are functionally equivalent to those in a previous report commissioned by the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill -- and as a pro-bono companion piece, Cal alumni from Bain & Company put together a report of their own on Cal Athletics, which was delivered in 2012.

The key? 

"It does not appear possible for IA to maintain its current level of performance and number of sports by making additional reductions in expenses. The comparative data show that significant institutional support for IA programs is common across peer institutions, and that the current level of support provided to Berkeley's IA program is towards the middle of the range."

The supplemental, athletics-specific Bain report determined that Cal's "fundraising efforts may be overly focused on large donors to the extent that 80% of donations come from 20% of donors. These factors appear to account for a great deal of volatility in giving on a year-to-year basis and the fall-off in annual giving as the same donors participate in the ESP/SAHPC programs."

It also concluded that, in the wake of sports being cut, with major stakeholders not informed of that cut until the morning of Sept, 28, 2010 -- Gordon himself asked former Athletic Director Sandy Barbour if baseball would be cut five days prior to the cut announcement, and was told that it would not -- trust needed to be re-established:

"The interviews conducted indicate that trust and credibility with many IA stakeholders can and must be reestablished. This deficit of satisfaction may be partially driven by the cancellation and eventual reinstatement of the five teams."

The cuts coming at the same time as the University asked its biggest donors to pony up for suddenly very expensive seat licenses was not well received, according to several donors who spoke with BearTerritory, and early returns fell well short of the expected take, necessitating an overhaul of the financing model in 2013. A 1-11 season on the field in 2013 didn't help matters. Ticket sales annually in the renovated Memorial Stadium have never reached the amount generated in the last year Cal played before the renovation, the 5-7 2010 season.

Donor Paul White, brother of Pac-12 All-Century Team member Ed White, said that Cal, in his estimation, has not changed its behavior when it comes to the donor base. It is still focused on that top 20%, he opined.

The 80/20 ratio cited is generally known as the Pareto principle, a common statistic in fundraising, and, according to a Cal Athletics spokesman, "it's not necessarily a bad number, and is a standard that is generally accepted in most cases."

Cal believes that the volatility cited by the Bain report a a result of that 80/20 ratio comes "from a variety of factors."

"One of these factors that we and our peers in college athletics have identified is interactions that are more transactional than philanthropy based," the spokesman said. "For example, when ticket sales are tied to donations, it is natural that numbers rise in good years and are impacted by poorer years. Many of our colleagues in the Power 5 conferences are wrestling with ideas on how best to even out such donation levels from year to year. Donors give for a multitude of different reasons, and we're attempting to do a better job at identifying what motivates our donors to give as individuals."

One issue: Athletics has had three directors of development over the past six years. None have been able to stay long enough for fundraising to alter course. Wang has received positive reviews from donors who have spoken with BearTerritory, but he hasn't yet had time to completely change the scope of the donor base to one with a larger lower half -- a broader, more muscular, more diverse cross section of young alumni, said a source familiar with his thinking (Wang declined to be interviewed for this piece).

"It certainly makes sense to grow our base, and we are putting time and resources in areas both inside and outside the Bay Area were we have a mass of alumni, whether that’s in Los Angeles, New York or anywhere in between," said the spokesman. "We want to build our community by providing a message of access to education and the No. 1 public university in the world through athletics. The key to achieving this goal is to try to grow both buckets simultaneously: increase our purely philanthropic giving as well as annual donations that are often tied to ticket sales."

Despite difficulties, since 2011, Athletics has seen a sizable jump in donations, a significant decrease in institutional support, and a steady increase in monies transferred back to Campus through the University's internal taxation system. Numbers below do not include the 2016 fiscal year (June 2015-June 2016) because it is still under audit by KPMG.

Fiscal Year Contributions to Athletics $ Transferred Back to the Institution Direct Institutional Support
2011 $8.1m $2.4m $8.2m
2012 $13m $2.5m $7.0m
2013 $26.1m $2.9m $6.1m
2014 $22.7m $3.5m $3.5m
2015 $22.5m $3.7m $3.6m

*all numbers approximate, from Cal Athletics Financials

The mission to get Athletics off of the University teat seems to be proceeding apace, but there is, however, another factor: California Memorial Stadium.

The Financial Climate

The University is faced with a $110 million structural budget deficit (on a total budget of $2.5 billion), with Athletics projected to account for a single-year projected loss of $21.76 million this year, while supporting the largest program (30 sports) in the Pac-12, outside of Stanford (35).

During a meeting three weeks ago with eight coaches, one of the members of the Task Force, Powell, who was also on the 2009 iteration, told the group that the three departments within the University that contributed the most to Campus's budget shortfall were Housing, Real Estate and Athletics. Of Cal's $21.76 million deficit, $18 million goes to debt service on California Memorial Stadium, meaning that Athletics, in terms of day-to-day operations, is running a $3.76 million deficit -- well below the $5 million in Campus support for Athletics that was targeted in 2009.

"So," one coach asked, "is there a task force for housing and a task force for real estate?"

The answer: "No, there's not."

"[Athletics is] what everybody is focused on, at my end, but I’m not sure if they’re just on Intercollegiate Athletics or if they’re talking about reductions or eliminations of other bodies at UC Berkley, or other departments, rather," Gordon said. "It would be good to know."

"We told him, 'We're all willing to manage our rosters, if that means we can all stay,'" said one women's coach, who was in the meeting with Powell, a meeting which included rugby head coach Jack Clark. "The men will have to limit their rosters, and the women will have to increase their rosters. Then we'll come into compliance with Title IX, and we think we can weather the storm."

California Memorial Stadium cost $464 million, half of which was dedicated to needed seismic upgrading to the 93-year old stadium, which sits on the Hayward Fault. As former athletic director Sandy Barbour said, retrofitting the stadium, itself, was not an option, given the seismic concerns; it was a necessity.

That debt was expected to be financed by personal seat licenses (the Endowment Seating Program) -- the sale of 40- and 50-year rights to about 2,900 premium seats in Memorial Stadium. The plan did not produce the kinds of ambitious results that were hoped for, and a 22-39 football record since the stadium re-opened has not helped matters, as Cal allowed a no-penalty back-out for purchasers of those seat licenses.

Based on projections made after the original financial model was adjusted in 2013, Cal estimated that the 2016 fiscal year would close with a fund functioning as an endowment (FFE) balance of approximately $67.8 million, according to a Cal Athletics spokesman. Actual results saw the balance close at approximately $61 million. In FY15, the FFE balance was approximately $66.3 million, against a projection of $61.7 million. The FFE was above projections in the previous two years, as well.

The model is fluid, and actual results have varied. 

"It is important to remember that this is a diversified long-term financial model, and some areas will perform better than others in individual years," said a Cal athletics spokesman. "For instance, premium seat revenue collected slightly grew from FY15 to FY16. In addition, the performance of the stock market has an impact on the FFE as these are invested funds. Since the close of FY16 on June 30, 2016, the Dow has increased nearly 2,000 points."

Hamstrung by Panoramic Hill

Because of the University's settlement with the Panoramic Hill Association that allowed construction to commence, however, potentially huge moneymaking events can not be held at the stadium.

In 2010, the Campus agreed in a settlement with the strident neighborhood association to limit "capacity events" at the stadium (attended by more than 10,000 spectators) to nine events in any three-year span, with no more than four in any one year, exclusive of football games. No more than two non-football events per year can exceed 30,000 spectators, through 2025. That means large, revenue-generating events like concerts or other stadium shows, international soccer matches and NFL games are severely limited (NFL games are expressly prohibited by the agreement), thereby severely limiting the revenue potential of the stadium.

For the next 16 years, Athletics will make interest-only payments of approximately $18 million annually on debt service of the stadium, and starting in 2032, those payments go up to $30 million at first, and then to almost $40 million, without the benefit of any of the above additional, persistent revenue streams (as opposed to the shorter-term 15-year field naming rights deal with Kabam, worth a total of nearly $18 million).

Paying Yourself

When taking issue with how the costs of Intercollegiate Athletics are calculated, the 2009 committee made this point:

"The most significant adjustment would be to subtract from the costs of the program some or all of the value of athletic scholarships (currently $10M annually), either on the view that such funds are a mere internal transfer, or on the grounds that at least some of the funds represent expenses the institution would have incurred anyway to support those students were they enrolled as non-athletes."

One Athletic Department source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, noted that out-of-state scholarships for student-athletes are charged to the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics at the rate of standard out-of-state tuition, despite the fact that "it takes the same resources to educate that student-athlete, once they're here, as it does an in-state student."

For comparison's sake, at Arizona and Arizona State, once out-of-state students (athletes included) have resided in the state of Arizona for 12 months, they can petition for state residency, which drops their tuition to that of an in-state student. That means the dollar value charged to Athletics by the Campus also goes down. Other universities apply tuition waivers, also keeping scholarships off of the profit-and-loss sheets when it comes to Athletics.

Currently, at Cal, in-state tuition is $13,485, while out-of-state tuition is $40,167. At a difference of $26,682, not including additional cost-of-attendance expenses the NCAA now mandates schools pay for, that's an additional $960,552 for the football team, alone. That is counted in Athletics' operational expenses.

In the findings of the 2015 Chancellor's Task Force on Academics and Athletics, which raised the academic recruiting standards for Cal Athletics, the group posited that the current recruiting pool -- primarily the state of California and public schools -- would not be deep enough, given the new academic standards:

"We were not in a position to carry out “depth of pool” studies, but the input from coaches was very much attuned to this. While we have higher numbers of non-resident (and international) student-athletes in the so-called Olympic sports, those sports with more numerous scholarships are seriously constrained by the $20,00+ difference in scholarships for non-resident versus resident students. The Task Force as a whole did not discuss together any implications—fiscal, logistical – of changes in admissions policies: with the increase in non-resident student enrollments across campus, does a more national/international recruiting strategy make sense? If so, how does one calculate the financial implications of higher (non-resident) scholarship costs? And what possible plans (such as athletics tuition waivers?) might be developed to attend to such changes."

Beyond solely adding more out-of-state scholarships to the ledger, the expense of recruiting out-of-state players -- cross-country or international flights, for instance -- is significantly higher than the expenses incurred by a California-centric recruiting strategy.

In 2015, Cal Athletics added $1.5 million in expenses based on a University hike in out-of-state tuition, combined with the addition of full cost-of-attendance coverage mandated by the NCAA to scholarship athletes. Additionally, the amount that Athletics returned to campus in the most recent fiscal year as part of the university's internal taxation system increased by almost $1 million, with the total amounting to $4.63 million.

The San Jose Mercury News reported that the largest jump in Athletics expenses from 2015 to what's expected in 2016 -- $6 million -- is in the form of compensation and benefits. From 2007 to 2016, Campus's overall benefits expenses have increased by over $200 million.

The 2009 committee report noted that the increases in costs to Athletics are costs that Athletics had no direct part in creating, such as the cost of employee benefits. That report did not anticipate that those benefits (retirement, 401K, pension, etc.) would now be tied to the full value of a coach's contract, not just the base salary, per changes to University policy within the last year. In real terms, that means that instead of paying pension and other benefits based on head football coach Sonny Dykes's $350,000 base salary, those benefits are now paid on the total amount, including the talent fee -- a total of $2.65 million in 2016, $2.725 million in 2017, $2.8 million in 2018 and $2.875 million in 2019. Then, there is the case of Cal field hockey. Among a series of over 80 emails acquired by BearTerritory under the California Public Records Act (a request that was originally filed 15 month ago, to which the UC Berkeley Office of Public Records identified 700-900 emails as respondent, and which was finally fulfilled earlier this month), is an email from former athletic director Sandy Barbour to a group working on the then-proposed parking structure on the footprint of the Cal women's field hockey turf -- Maxwell Family Field.

In an email dated Dec. 9, 2013, addressed to now-former Vice Chancellor of Finance (a campus, not Athletics, position) John Wilton, Barbour stated unequivocally that topping the planned parking structure adjacent to Memorial Stadium with a new field hockey turf -- a like-for-like solution, since Cal field hockey had played on that plot for decades -- was by far the cheapest and easiest plan, among those that included extensive research of the North Field next to Hearst Gymnasium, and a plan to move field hockey and/or soccer practice facilities to Golden Bear Field, east of the Clark Kerr Campus.

"This is the lowest net expense alternative," she said of keeping field hockey at Maxwell. "As outlined ... the full project (Maxwell field turf, Golden Bear astro turf, Golden Bear soccer practice grass) is a minimum $6 million project. The revenue projections on this alternative require a $2 million fundraised number from IA Development. As we discussed on the phone, my recommendation is that we move forward with replacing the Maxwell turf with astro turf."

Field hockey is played on a woven astro turf carpet, and cannot be played on field turf -- artificial turf that approximates actual grass -- hence, putting field turf on top of Maxwell meant that while it was to be considered a "multi-purpose" field, field hockey would not be one of those purposes.

After Barbour's recommendation (on page 18 of 100 pages of emails), returning field hockey to Maxwell is not spoken of at all in emails that cover the rest of Barbour's tenure. The only time it is mentioned is by a concerned field hockey alumnae (name redacted), who cited the academic and financial toll that not having an on-campus facility would take on the field hockey program in a letter to Wilton on Aug. 25, 2014. Wilton sends an e-mail on Aug, 25, to chancellor Nicholas Dirks, and says: "We should discuss this [citing the letter]. It is a classic example of why we need a new AD. No feasible solution worked out ahead of time (despite two years notice) and no effective communication with stakeholders. Instead, we are left with the inevitable mess."

Wilton was the original recipient of the Dec. 9, 2013 email from Barbour, with Athletics COO Solly Fulp, Phillip Esten (Deputy Director of Athletics for External Relations, now at Penn State) and Teresa Gould (Deputy Director of Athletics and Chief of Staff) cc'd. What is mentioned over the course of the intervening correspondences is the Memorandum of Understanding between Wilton (as Cal signatory) and the Cal Rugby Advisory Board, dated Sept. 12, 2012. That document, also obtained by BearTerritory, states that no "permanent structural changes or permanent field markings inconsistent with [Witter Rugby Field's] use as a Rugby field will be made," and if that condition -- as well as others, including the retaining of rugby's varsity status -- are met, the Cal Rugby Advisory Board will ensure that Rugby will be self-sufficient, financially, and will donate, in support of Cal women's lacrosse and women's gymnastics, a total of $1.12 million over the course of nine fiscal years.

That memorandum of understanding meant, effectively, that elements of football practices -- for instance, special teams work -- could not practically be conducted on Witter (no yard lines, no hash marks), whereas, in the past, before Memorial Stadium had been turfed, the football team regularly used Witter as an auxiliary field, and had, during recent years, sent specialists up to Witter to practice punting and field goal kicking. So, a second football field was laid down on top of the Maxwell garage, and field hockey was displaced. While the field is officially classified as a "multi-use facility," the presence of goal posts and football lines, as well as the absence of some of the lines for Recreational Sports activities (Maxwell previously had soccer and lacrosse lines, and demarcated home plates, batters boxes, bases and pitching "rubbers" for intramural softball; soccer and lacrosse remain), it is a de facto football practice field.

"For softball, which is one of our main sports, we weren't able to lay down permanent bases, stitched in to the turf, or the pitcher's rubber," said former director of Rec Sports, Mike Weinberger, who retired this year. "The best I could get, was little dots where the bases should go, and the pitcher's rubber should go, so then the intramural staff, before every game, could bring out these rubber bases and set up the diamond ... I was told I couldn't have any marks for my main sport, because, 'It has to look like a football practice field.'"

Weinberger did wind up getting a concession: batters boxes, outside the football lines. However, they are not in all four corners of the field, as they were when the field was home to Cal field hockey.

Between two re-surfacings of Underhill Field to provide a home field hockey; feasibility studies of both Hearst North and Golden Bear Fields; construction of a temporary practice field on the La Loma Tennis Court; extended scholarships to cover field hockey athletes who could not graduate on time because their schedules were altered, due to playing and practicing at UC Davis, Pacific and Stanford; and the transportation costs associated with all of that travel, the University has had to shell out at an estimated $7.2 million, not including the $2.3 million to improve softball's Levine-Fricke Field to satisfy Title IX, and not inclusive of legal fees surrounding Title IX litigation brought by Cal field hockey players and their families.

To sum up: The University has paid an estimated $7.2 million, in order to save $1.12 million, and now, the task force, on the last Monday before Christmas, will ask for input from a working donor community that is suspicious, at best, of its intentions.

This will be the third time in the last 12 years that cutting sports -- again, at the potential cost of tens of millions of dollars to the Campus as a whole -- has been discussed. In an interview I conducted with Barbour in July of 2013, she related the following story: “I had been here about six weeks, and the upper-level administrator who oversaw athletics at the time came to me and said, ‘We’re going to have to drop programs, Sandy.’ Now, this is fall of 2004. And, I said, ‘Absolutely not. I’m not doing it. You were sitting in that room when I interviewed and when I gave my response and I told you not to hire me, if that’s what you wanted to do, if that’s what you thought you needed to do.’”

And now, 12 years later, it's on the table again. Top Stories