In a move with sweeping implications for Cal’s athletic department, Chancellor Carol Christ said Thursday that central campus will assume a portion of crushing annual debt from the Memorial Stadium renovation, according to a campus spokesman.
Christ revealed her plans at a meeting of the university’s Academic Senate in which she also announced that athletics must balance its budget by 2020, a timeframe that mirrors the university’s plan.
There were a lot of worries from the Cal doomsayers (I don’t like Cal doomsayers) that Chancellor Crist would take an old-fashioned approach and start cutting Cal Athletics root from stem to ease debt reservicing. That doesn’t look the case.
Crist (who is well-known for her financial acumen) is taking on a more reasonable approach. If Cal Athletics has had difficulty servicing their books, the more financally responsible minds at the university should take more of the load in managing the debt servicing.
With new money coming from Cal’s deals with Under Armour and Learfield (and likely a new naming partner for the stadium), it will be easier for Cal to pay off debts.
This could also lead to an athletic department that can do a better job of funding its coaches. As debts piled up the last decade, Cal had trouble paying top-dollar for good coaching staffs. We’ve seen several Cal coaches depart for better salaried positions, and particularly Cal football assistants get poached. A faster path to a balanced athletic department could help prevent such situations from arising in the future.
From the early reports, it seems the sacrifice will be the old Edwards Stadium, as it’s likely that the area will be converted into new student housing, classrooms, or other academic uses. This appears to be the concession that will mollify the academic holdouts on the faculty who are opposed to all things Cal Athletics, as a part of the department’s history will likely be swallowed up to help ensure further financial growth and development of the university.
It remains to be seen where Cal soccer and track will end up (the old Clark Kerr field is a possibility, perhaps the new football practice facility at Maxwell could be used, and maybe off-site locations might have to be considered).
Cal fans, your thoughts on all these financial developments?