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Friday, May 14, 2004
Chronicle of Higher Education 5-14-04
San Francisco State U. Drops 5 Sports and Curtails 7 Others to Ease Budget
San Francisco State University is eliminating 5 sports and severely curtailing 7 of its remaining 11 teams as part of efforts to cut $22-million from its budget. The institution, which competes in Division II of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, will also slash its overall athletics budget in half, to about $1.4-million a year from nearly $3-million.
The demise of men's track and field, men's and women's swimming, women's volleyball, and women's tennis comes at a time when budget deficits have plagued the state government of California, forcing colleges, universities, and other public institutions to tighten their belts as well.
"Our president was between a rock and a hard place," Michael J. Simpson, the university's athletics director, said of Robert A. Corrigan, San Francisco State's president. "It doesn't matter what you cut -- somebody is going to be unhappy."
Coaches of women's indoor track, women's outdoor track and field, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, and men's soccer will be reduced to a 40-percent workload, and their salaries will be cut by more than half, Mr. Simpson said. But all coaches will retain their benefits. The number of assistant coaches will be reduced to 16 from 20.
The baseball, softball, women's soccer, and wrestling teams have so far been spared any changes, although the university will now require their coaches to raise a portion of the teams' operating budgets, Mr. Simpson said.
Mr. Simpson said that the university would honor the athletics scholarships held by players on the doomed teams for at least another year.
Colleen Bentley-Adler, director of public affairs for the California State University System, said that other universities in the 23-campus system have faced similar financial constraints but have chosen not to cut teams.
In March students at San Francisco State narrowly defeated a referendum that would have increased student fees, to $33 a semester from $24 a semester, in an effort to raise money for the athletics department, Mr. Simpson said. Half of the department's budget comes from student fees.
"I have great empathy for our student-athletes, our staff, and our coaches who are having to go through this agony," Mr. Simpson said. "It's just a very, very rough time out here right now."
John Johnson, the coach of men's track and field for the past three years, said he is disappointed at the team's demise. "It's been a long and very proud program," he said. Mr. Johnson has applied for the head-coaching job in men's track and field at Augustana College, in Sioux Falls, S.D., where he once worked as an assistant.
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