June 27, 1997
Questions and Answers Regarding Intercollegiate Athletics
The Cal State Northridge community shares the public concern with the recent decision to eliminate several men's sports teams. We care deeply about this institution and the community in which we reside and will seek to repair the breach that has been created.
In helping the general community understand this most difficult decision, we ask you to consider some facts of which you may not be aware.
The following questions and answers have been compiled by staff to help you understand the interrelated issues which were involved in the decision.
1. Why did we have to drop some sports?
The basic dilemma we faced was a real deficit of $800,000 for the current fiscal year and a projected deficit of more than $1 million for next year. The only available source of funds to augment the athletic budget is General Fund revenue; in other words, to balance the athletics budget, we would have had to reduce funding for academic and instructional support activities. Since our discretionary resources were already insufficient to meet priority needs in these areas, we chose to reduce our spending on intercollegiate athletics while maintaining the kind of athletic competition that students had supported. (See #23 below.)
A second factor was the institution's obligation to meet Title IX and CAL NOW gender equity requirements by balancing participation and funding of men's and women's sports. Ideally, we we would have kept all our present men's sports and added additional women's sports to achieve parity. (See #9 below.) However, that choice would have reduced funding for academic and instructional support activities even further.
The combined effect of the athletics budget deficit, gender equity requirements and academic and operational funding priorities led to the decision to cut some men's sports.
2. What were the revenues and expenditures for athletics in 1996-97?
3. What additional costs were incurred by affiliating with the Big Sky Conference? 20,000
The number of men's scholarships increased from 54 to 79, in part due to the Big Sky requirement to increase the number of football scholarships. The number of women's scholarships increased from 36 to 63 to achieve parity.
4. Why werenÕt travel and other expenses properly anticipated? Why wasn't the deficit reported earlier?
Because 1996-97 was our first year in the Big Sky Conference, we were not able to estimate the exact travel schedule or costs accurately. (Now that we've had a year's experience, we can plan our travel budgets accordingly. One benefit of participating in a conference is knowing who your opponents are and thus what your costs will be.) The travel costs associated with baseball, which was not in a conference, were greater than anticipated because the team had to seek available opponents.
During the year, as a result of staff turnover, several different individuals served as business officer for the department. Accurate budget information was not available in a timely way.
5. Why has the University Corporation not funded athletics at the agreed on level?
The 1994 earthquake disrupted normal use and availability of food services and the bookstore, which are the largest sources of University Corporation contributions to University programs. As a result of the dramatic reduction in student enrollment, Corporation revenues were reduced. The Corporation contribution to Athletics dropped to $280,000 in each of the past two years rather than the $500,000 annually that had been expected. The Corporation has voted to meet the $500,000 commitment to athletics in the coming year.
6. What would be the approximate cost of retaining all four men's sports for 1997-98?
The cost of these sports in 1996-97 totaled $575,099, which included coaches' salaries, scholarships, and operations. That is the baseline cost for 1997-98 as well. The cost would increase in subsequent years to accommodate salary and scholarship increases.
7. What would it cost to reinstate baseball?
Reinstating baseball permanently would also require adding one or more women's sports to maintain parity between the number of men and women athletes. The cost of adding baseball and the women's sports would total about $500,000 a year in addition to the extra expenses associated with the Big Sky Conference.
8. What is the cost per year of adding additional women's sports?
The addition of three women's sports such as lacrosse, water polo, and rifle would be required. These three sports have low start-up costs, low overhead, and opportunities for high participation.
Maximum # of scholarships
The cost figures include salaries, scholarships, and operating expenses. Support services would cost an additional $100,000 a year. These costs are for the first year only.
9. Therefore, what would be the total annual cost of retaining all men's sports while adding womenÕs sports to meet gender equity requirements?
10. What role did gender equity play in this decision?
All colleges and universities receiving federal funds are required to demonstrate by federal law (Title IX) an equitable distribution of resources and participation for men and women. The 23 campuses of the California State University are further governed by an agreement reached with the California chapter of the National Organization of Women. We accept the principles of gender equity as a moral obligation as well.
11. What requirements did the CAL-NOW agreement impose?
In 1993, the California State University and the California National Organization for Women (CAL-NOW) entered into an agreement which required the California State University to make immediate and continuous progress toward achieving gender equity in its campus intercollegiate athletics programs. Specifically, the goals of the consent decree are that by 1998-99, 1) participation by men and women athletes on each campus will be within five percentage points of the proportions of NCAA eligible women and men undergraduates on that campus; 2) expenditures will be within ten percentage points; and 3) grants in aid will be within five percentage points. Our 1996-97 athletic program did not meet the gender equity requirements of the CAL-NOW settlement.
12. Would CSUN be in compliance with CAL-NOW next year if football were excluded from the calculations?
Some believe that football should be excluded from calculations of parity between menÕs and women's athletics because women have no equivalent sport. The courts have consistently rejected this argument.
However, if a new law excluded football from the calculations, CSUN could achieve compliance in 1997-98. The calculations are as follows:
By capping the number of football players at 85 next year, the projected number of male players, excluding football players, would be 185, or 46% of the total; the projected number of women players would be 213, or 54% of the total number of athletes. According to the CAL-NOW agreement, the number of players of each gender must be within 5 percentage points of its proportion among eligible students in the student body. Because eligible men constitute 42% of the student body and eligible women constitute 58%, we would be within compliance.
13. How does CSUN compare with other comparable CSU campuses with regard to gender equity requirements?
All CSU's must comply with CAL-NOW requirements by 1998-99.
The following chart includes gender equity data for CSUN and other CSU campuses that are nearby or similar to ours in size, based on the latest available comparative statistics (1995-96):
Eligible Students (in %)
Athletes (in %)
14. Would sports that are funded separately by private funds be subject to Title IX requirements?
Yes. The Federal Government looks at total expenditures, regardless of the source of funds. If a donor gave us $20,000 toward a menÕs program, we would be required to raise or fund an equal amount to the woman's programs.
15. What role did Big Sky Conference requirements play in the decision to drop some men's sports?
The Big Sky Conference requires that its affiliates offer six specific men's sports, including football, and seven specific women's sports. Men's baseball, soccer, volleyball, and swimming are not among the required sports. Our affiliation with the Big Sky reduces our flexibility about the level of funding and kinds of sports we will offer. Dropping the four men's sports will enable us to retain membership in the Big Sky, balance the athletic budget, and achieve gender equity requirements.
16. Why didn't we join another conference or remain independent?
As a Division I university, the Big Sky Conference was the only option open to us. We had joined the American West Conference, but it disbanded. The Big West Conference, in which we sought membership, did not extend us an invitation because of our inability to commit to Division I-A rather than I-AA football, which is our current level in the Big Sky. Division I-A is more expensive because of its higher scholarship requirements.
Remaining independent would have deprived CSUN student athletes of the benefits of conference play enumerated below (see #17); in addition, as we discovered with our independent baseball team this year, non-conference play is difficult to plan and may require additional costs in seeking available opponents.
17. Why is conference membership crucial?
Conference teams are the emphatic choice of student-athletes, who prefer them for several reasons. Conference teams are assured of playing a regular series of opponents; the teams can compete in post-season and championship games; television broadcasts provide exposure for the athletes. As a result of conference affiliation, the university can attract stronger athletes. Because the Big Sky Conference also requires strong and sustained academic performance for student-athletes, membership acts as an incentive for student persistence and graduation.
The university and athletic programs also benefit from increased tradition and rivalry, and heightened spectator interest and university spirit which build when teams play each other year after year. Television broadcasts also provide revenue and visibility to the university as a whole.
18. Cal State Long Beach and Fullerton each dropped football. How do their other teams find opponents?
Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Fullerton belonged to the Big West Conference before they dropped football. When they joined the Big West, it did not require football as a core sport, as the Big Sky Conference does. As a result, they were not penalized for dropping football. However, the Big West now seeks new members willing to play Division I-A football. Ax explained in #16, we cannot commit to I-A because of its higher scholarship requirements.
19. Under what conditions do we remain members of the Big Sky Conference?
We have completed the first year of a three-year development plan. We need to offer the following core sports: For men, basketball, cross country, football, indoor track, outdoor track, and tennis. For women, basketball, cross country, golf, indoor track, outdoor track, tennis, and volleyball. We have received a waiver on men's tennis for one year. The Conference membership will decide whether tennis or golf will become a required core sport. When we joined the conference, we signed a Memo of Understanding to meet the following three conditions over time:
- Increase funding for football scholarships from 20 to the I-AA limit of 63.
- Improve the existing North Campus stadium, including total capacity, spectator amenities, and press facilities, either through renovation or by building a new stadium, so our facility is of similar quality to that of other Big Sky affiliates.
- Improve the basketball gymnasium by increasing the seating capacity from 1,800 at present to 3,000-4,000 to accommodate tournament play.
20. Don't baseball, volleyball, soccer, and swimming have their own conferences? Couldn't our teams join those conferences?
Each of those sports has conferences devoted only to that sport. Our softball, volleyball, soccer, and men's and women's swimming teams each belonged to a separate conference. However if we substituted those conferences for the Big Sky Conference, only those five sports would have a conference affiliation; 14 sports would not.
21. Baseball, soccer, swimming, and volleyball have a long tradition in the Valley. Why did we place more value on football than on those other sports?
We recognize the importance of the Valley traditions and of those sports. Our decision was based on the multiple considerations of conference membership, reducing the athletic budget deficit and achieving gender equity; we regret that we did not have the means to retain those sports.
Three other factors were also considered. First, paid attendance at football games in 1996-97 was six times higher than men's basketball and almost fifteen times higher than attendance at baseball games. (See #26 below.) While we do not place more value on football, an average of 4,260 fans probably does. In 1995, moreover, students passed a fee referendum under the campaign banner, "Save Football."
Second, only football and basketball have the potential to generate revenue through guarantees, sponsorships, televised games and sharing in conference revenue. If any Big Sky team plays in a post-season tournament, the university receives a share of the funds they receive. Similar revenue sources do not exist for other sports. Given the increasing pressures on General Fund revenues available to the University, the capacity of sports to generate revenue is a reasonable consideration.
Third, football creates additional opportunities for non-athletes to participate in collegiate activities through involvement in the marching band and spirit squad. In recent years, more alumni and Greek organizations have participated in annual homecoming activities centered around football. The degree of student participation in activities related to football is unrivaled by any other sport.
22. What is the approximate revenue amount that we can earn if we play in a post-season game? If another Big Sky team does? What is the likelihood of that occurring, based on past Big Sky performance?
Last year each Big Sky basketball team that qualified for tournament post-season play (our team was one that did) earned $16,000. The Big Sky is guaranteed a berth in post-season basketball and football.
IV. Student Referendum
23. In 1995, students passed a referendum increasing fees, with the money going toward athletics. Students were urged to vote for the referendum to save football, but it was assumed that other sports were safe. Is it fair in the light of that vote to drop these sports?
"Save Football" was a campaign slogan in favor of the referendum, but as news clippings of the period indicate, three sports plus football would have been dropped without that additional revenue. That other sports were in peril was known and widely publicized, for instance in the endorsement of the referendum that appeared in The Daily Sundial on March 7, 1995, and in a Daily News article around the same time.
24. Now that sports have been dropped, some students believe the referendum was passed under false pretenses. How do you respond to this sentiment?
The referendum was passed when the athletic program belonged to the American West Conference; cost estimates were based on valid financial assumptions that applied to that conference. Unfortunately, the American West Conference disbanded. The athletic program sought to fulfill the spirit of the referendum by joining the Big Sky.
All of the student fee income supports athletic scholarships, and team expenses. The fee remains crucial to funding our athletic program particularly since the costs of the Big Sky are greater.
V. Attendance, Participation, and Alternative Funding Sources
25. How many students participate in each sport?
In 1996-97 the number of student athletes was 472. The breakdown by sport is as follows: td>Football
*Team membership will be capped at 85 in 1997-98.
26. In 1996-97, what was the average attendance per game for each men's sport offered at CSUN?
Attendance is tabulated for the following sports:
27. For 1996-97, what was the total amount of private gifts for each of these sports?
28. What happens to newly recruited athletes and current participants in the discontinued sports?
All athletic scholarships will be honored for one year. Student athletes who choose to transfer can do so without losing their eligibility. (Athletes are eligible to play four years in a five year period.) Athletes could also play on a club team without any penalty.
VI. Consultation with the Community
29. Complaints have arisen that the university failed to consult with community and other key groups before the decision was announced. What kind of consultation was done?
The Athletics Department followed existing practices for consultation about athletic issues, which included meetings with the Athletics Association Board of Directors and the Intercollegiate Athletic Advisory Board. These groups include community members as well as campus members; both were consulted before recommendations for reducing sports were submitted. They have provided advice on all athletic planning and budget matters every year since 1988 -- including decisions regarding Division 1 status, the "Save Football" campaign and membership in the American West and Big Sky-- often during periods when budget problems in athletics had become a public issue. Most recently, when consulted about potential sports elimination, the Intercollegiate Athletics Advisory Board, in a letter to me, acknowledged the area's budget problems but hoped additional university funds could be found to support the continuation of all sports. The Athletics Association Board concurred in this opinion.
There was no attempt or intention to hide the fact of the deficit or to delay a decision until classes had ended. In fact both campus newspaper and local media articles reported on the consideration of dropping sports in May, before the end of the semester. There was little campus or community reaction to the issue until sports columnists began to write articles strongly opposed to the university cutting baseball.
Nevertheless, we regret that we did not consult more broadly about the decision and will work to expand the normal processes of consultation in the future.
30. With all of these cuts and changes, how can we be assured that the Athletics Department will be in the black next year?
The Athletic Department has established a realistic estimate of departmental revenue from a combination of gate receipts, game guarantees and corporate sponsorships based on actual 1996-97 expenditures. The Corporation has voted to provide an additional $219,000 for the program. These revenue sources, combined with the savings accrued from eliminating sports and other administrative expenditures, will provide a more stable financial environment. The proposed 1997-98 budget has been subjected to independent review by the vice president for administration and finance and his staff.
To fulfill this commitment, the Athletics Department has instituted new budget tracking procedures, including the generation of monthly and quarterly reports which will be reviewed by the Executive Officers. The department recently hired an associate director for business affairs who has extensive budget experience and will be responsible for closely monitoring expenditures and revenues and for providing these monthly and quarterly reports. An assistant director of athletics for development will be hired by October 1, 1997.
The Athletics Department has been required to implement a more aggressive development plan, including funding goals per sport and monthly reports of progress. The department has entered into a contract with a marketing firm to increase corporate sponsorships. These initiatives and management tools will insure that athletic programs will be well managed, funds will be used appropriately, and that the Executive Officers will receive regular reports to assess the DepartmentÕs progress in fulfilling its commitments.
Blenda J. Wilson