Notable University of California baseball players include Jeff Kent, Andy Messersmith, Jackie Jensen, Bob Melvin, Darren Lewis and Brandom Morrow. There will be no more, however, because we learned today that Cal has decided to drop its baseball program entirely:
The University of California announced today it will not reinstate its baseball program despite vigorous fundraising efforts to save it from the chopping block.
Cal announced in September that it would cut five athletics programs after the 2011 season in order to save $5 million by 2014. Athletics supporters quickly mobilized to form Save Cal Sports, which secured between $12 million and $16 million in pledges but fell short of the university’s stated goal of $25 million needed to save all five programs.
Cal chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau issued a statement Friday saying that enough funds were raised to reinstate men’s rugby, women’s gymnastics and women’s lacrosse, but not baseball and men’s gymnastics.
There were Title IX considerations here as well as financial ones. I don’t pretend to know too much about the economics of Cal’s program or the Title IX implications, but California baseball writers like Bill Shaikan and John Shea are livid today and are calling the decision to axe baseball shameful.
I’m going to dig deeper this afternoon to see if that’s really the case or if it’s simply an understandable case of guys who like baseball not liking it when there is less of it. But Shaikin and Shea are pretty savvy about behind the scenes things, so my guess is that their indignation at the university is righteous.
If that wasn’t enough California college baseball chaos for you, check out this video over at TMZ of the UCLA baseball team meeting with Charlie Sheen yesterday. He actually tells them “don’t do crack.” No word if he told them how much his life has improved in the nearly two weeks since he gave up weekend cocaine binges with porn stars.
The lesson here: if you play baseball, UCLA > UC Berkeley.