Senator Florez Questions Chancellor About Elimination of Sports Teams

florezSenator Dean Florez chaired a meeting on Monday in which he questioned Chancellor Linda Katehi about her decision to eliminate four sports teams including the women’s rowing team along with three of men’s teams.

Senator Florez expressed skepticism about the university’s commentment to gender equity in its college sports program.  Senator Florez, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Gender Discrimination and Title IX Implementation plans to question the Chancellor in order that she will outline her rationale for the elimination of these programs.

“I think we need to better understand why certain teams were targeted for elimination and to ensure that these decisions were made for the right reasons,” wrote Florez in a press statement released Monday.

Senator Florez on Monday called it a flawed process which lacked transparency.  Given that it was announced in April without adequate warning to student athletes who would not have the opportunity to seek and explore additional options.

As the Vanguard has previous reported, students have complained, “Solely because of the Respondents’ timing and lack of transparency, we students have an impossibly short window in which either to have UC Davis reinstate the teams for next year or to transfer to schools that will compete in our sports.”

“During that same short window, opportunities for scholarships at other schools are either already gone or disappearing, and we are first and foremost students who need to focus on our exams and papers for this semester,” a grievance filed by students in June continued.

They argued at that time, “Without interim reinstatement, we students will lose an irreplaceable opportunity to compete in our sports for the limited window of intercollegiate athletic eligibility that our college years provide.”

“By contrast, UC Davis will not suffer harm if forced to reinstate teams that it had no right to eliminate in the first place to save money that the UC Davis students agreed to pay only if UC Davis would maintain all of its intercollegiate teams,” the students said.

According to UC Davis’ April 16, 2010 press release, Wendi Delmendo, compliance director for UC Davis, said “the approved budget plan meets the university’s requirements under Title IX in regard to the ratio between undergraduate enrollment and participation opportunities by gender. The plan also will meet the requirements under Title IX pertaining to distribution of grants-in-aid and all other measures of compliance.”

However, despite the claims by their compliance director, UC Davis does not exactly have a stellar record with regards to gender equity in sports. 

The Sacramento Bee reports this morning that in fact that university has been sued a number of times under Title IX, which is the federal law that requires equity in sports funding between the genders for those schools that receive government funding for athletics.

In February, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a suit alleging UC Davis violated federal law meant to promote gender equity in college athletics when it eliminated its women’s wrestling program.  The Panel ruled that three female wrestlers can pursue an action they filed after the school essentially eliminated their sport by making them compete against males of the same weight after the 2000-2001 academic year.

Fired women’s wrestling coach Michael Burch claimed the university retaliated against him for supporting the women’s lawsuit, the University was forced to settle a lawsuit for $725,000 with him in 2007.

UC Davis settled another Title IX lawsuit in 2009 by agreeing to within 10 years bring women’s participation in athletics to within 1.5 percent of its total female student body, which stood at 56 percent in the 2007-2008 academic year.

University officials on Monday did participate in the hearing and defended their decision as necessary given the magnitude of the budget cuts.  They suggested that their goal was to minimize the impact and preserve as many sports as possible.


In general I am sympathetic to both college sports programs, particularly the non-headlining programs such as the ones cut and gender equity issues.  If UC Davis was simply targeting sports programs and women’s sports programs that would be one thing.  But they are not.

The school is already raising fees by record amounts this year following double-digit fee increases the past two years.  They are putting staff on furloughs.  They have laid people off.  They are cutting course offerings.  Every single student in the university is being impacted by the budget cuts. 

What we are facing is nothing short of a crisis.  I understand the frustration of the athletes, particularly since the decision was made in April.  If there is an angle to explore here, it is the timing and the fact that university knew last fall and this past winter that we were going to get hammered on the budget and that student fees were going up.  That was the appropriate time to announce the cancellation of sports programs, when the students could make alternative plans.  April was too for them to find alternative schools or programs.  That part I understand.

UC Davis seems to have a poor record on gender equity, but they cut three men’s sports programs to only one women’s program.  Overall they have 14 teams for women to 9 teams for men, but that’s misleading because you know they spend far more on football than any other program.

But the bottom line is right now we are facing unprecedented cuts to education.  Fees go up 36.5% next year from last year.

So while I have great sympathy and support, I think the bottom line is everyone is hurting and everyone has a legitimate grievance, which unfortunately means that no one is being disproportionately wronged in this process.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. E Roberts Musser

    DMG: ” Overall they have 14 teams for women to 9 teams for men, but that’s misleading because you know they spend far more on football than any other program.”

    And there is your answer – Division 1 football. We are now paying the price (cancellation of 4 athletic teams) just so UCD could become Division 1 in football…

  2. J.R.

    I’m confused about your concluding point.

    “which unfortunately means that no one is being disproportionately wronged in this process.”

    Would it be better if some was being disproportionately wronged?

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