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Can Cal cut men’s sports to escape the Memorial Stadium debt?

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NCAA Football: Texas at California John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The California Golden Bears have a money problem.

They must mean they’re going to disband athletics. Quick! Flee!

Deadspin wrote an article about the issues the Cal athletic department faces.

I will admit, it does have a great title. “The desperate future of Cal Athletics is here.” It’s been here for awhile people.

Also, sad Oski! No one likes sad Oski!

Let’s go through this article, piece-by-piece.

Right now, they owe $18 million per year, and that’s only on the interest payments. Once they start paying off the principal, that number will spike to $26 million annually and keep rising for a while.

We’ve known this for awhile. Sounds awful, right? However, the $26 million part doesn’t go into effect until 2032. It’s formidable, but not impossible to get this ship righted in the next 15 years.

There are measurements that must be taken. Already proposals are being made, like the decision in potentially tearing down Edwards and displacing Cal soccer and track and field.

Cal Athletics will likely not go down the route of directly cutting sports again—they learned their lesson from the disastrous 2011 expedition. What could happen is trimming of the edges. Cutting roster sizes to reduce scholarship burden appears to be something the university is seriously considering, as reducing men’s rosters on certain revenue squads would ensure compliance with Title IX.

As of now, because the department uses prong three of Title IX, Cal would only be able to cut men’s teams. That’s what makes the plan to cut roster sizes for men’s teams stand out; it makes it possible to cut down the number of men’s athletes without cutting teams and makes a shift towards prong one of Title IX compliance easier. Prong one requires the department’s gender distribution to match that of the school — that would mean a shift from women representing 42 percent of Cal athletes to them representing 52 percent.

By limiting the ability of men’s sports to compete, that will eventually lead to a lessening of interest, and eventually the discussion will return to cutting sports outright. And cutting sports (unpopular as it sounds) is always going to be one of those proposals that keeps returning to the forefront.

Remember, Cal’s counterpart UCLA made the decision to cut tons of sports. They abandoned men’s swimming and gymnastics on both sides over twenty years ago, and the Bruins remain healthy and flush with revenue in a way their Cal counterparts have yet to enjoy. Of course, UCLA basketball is the best of all four programs by a mile, but what would happen if the Bruins had to spend their time making sure the budget was appropriately balanced?

However, the biggest financial losses still belong to a women’s sport. Cal women’s basketball loses the most amount of money of any major program.

Cutting sports might engender resentment from a ton of donors and alumni, but what other way forward is there? Cal fans, what are your thoughts on reducing our athletic program’s debt?