California drops baseball program

Kendall Rogers

The University of California-Berkeley's money issues took their toll on the baseball program Tuesday as coach Dave Esquer was told his program would be cut.

The school has exceeded its athletic department budget by $10-13 million in recent years and the belt-tightening begins next fall with the elimination of baseball and other sports.

Those program cuts were among recommendations from a committee assembled by school chancellor Robert Birgeneau.

"Clearly, this is a painful outcome after months of deliberation, analysis and the examination of every viable alternative," Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour said.

In addition to baseball, the school will eliminate men's and women's gymnastics and women's lacrosse. The defending champion men's rugby program will remain but no longer be fully funded.

The cuts will save $4 million in 2011-12, according to the university.

The news is doubly disappointing for the Bears' baseball team considering what the future seemed to hold. Cal reached the NCAA postseason in 2010 with a 29-25 record. It appeared primed for an excellent 2011 campaign, entering fall workouts with expectations of reaching the College World Series.

"It has an effect on all the of Pac-10. You are talking about a program that started playing baseball in the 1890s. That's over 100 years of tradition." Stanford coach Mark Marquess said. "Obviously it affects Stanford, because it's our traditional rival and obviously we are big rivals but we have a lot of good friends there. It's hard to believe."

NCAA transfer restrictions will not apply to Cal's players, opening the door for them to transfer to another Division I institution without having to sit out a year.

The program, which began in 1892, has won two national titles and made five trips to the CWS. It will disappear after the '11 season unless something changes.