October 17, 2010
Filed under Sports
If history has taught us anything, it should have taught us that no person or thing is too big or too important to fall.
Goliath was defeated. Rome dismantled. The Berlin Wall crumbled and the U.S. hockey team beat the Russians. College athletic programs, once thought to be safe from budget cuts, are learning this the hard way over the last few years. Universities all over the country are cutting sports teams and not just the “non-revenue” sports or “Olympic” sports that were downsized in the past. Wrestling, track, baseball and even football programs are getting the axe to meet department budgets.
Marques Colston, wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints, was a great feel-good story his rookie year. Colston was selected in the seventh round of the NFL Draft from small Hofstra University, and caught 70 passes for 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns on his way to finishing third in the Rookie of the Year voting.
Colston wasn’t the first player from Hofstra to make it to the League; however, he will probably be the last because the university cut its football program in 2009 after 69 years. Northeastern University, Cal State Northridge and Western Washington all recently cut their football programs too.
Not even large Pac-10 schools are safe from the budget cuts as the cut heard around the world (okay, maybe I exaggerated a little) was made this past September.
UC Berkley announced it was cutting four programs, including baseball and Cal’s championship rugby team.
Berkeley will generate an estimated $4 million in cost reductions over the next fiscal year. How did UC Berkley reach the decision on which sports to cut? According to a UC Berkeley press release, the decision was influenced by multiple factors that included net cost, donor impact, proximity of competition and Title IX.
Title IX was passed to ensure gender equality in school athletics and education. Title IX, which was enacted in 1972, requires schools to offer athletic opportunities for women in equivalent proportion to undergraduate enrollment levels.
It needs to be a mirrored representation of the student population, said Sarah Castillo, director of the Sports Psychology B.A. program at National University.
But the reasoning for athletic cuts doesn’t fall on Title IX. The education system is facing an unprecedented budget crisis and the students are the ones paying for it.
In 2009, both the California State University (CSU) and the University of California (UC) systems received 20 percent less state funding than they did the previous two years, and both systems raised student fees, limited new enrollments and expanded class sizes.
Cutting sports and athletic traditions is not an easy task but education still reigns supreme at many colleges and universities, and right now that education process is being stretched to the limit.
It’s tough for students to get through college in five years now, or even four, said Castillo. At the state schools, there aren’t enough faculty for students, and classes are severely impacted.
College sports, with its passion and determination, are some of the most exciting sports to watch and be a part of. But the budget problems now affecting many colleges and universities go much deeper than athletics and could ultimately impact more than just sports.