Monday, May 26, 2008

The Changing Face of Cal Athletics

In 1987, California chancellor Ira Heyman gave a speech to NCAA delegates warning of the great dangers that colleges faced pursuing an aggressive course in intercollegiate athletics while skewing academic priorities.

Heyman advocated freshman ineligibility for varsity sports, reductions in coaching staffs, salaries and athletic scholarships and a ban on postseason football and basketball games.

Twenty-one years later, Cal is trying to escalate its national standing in athletics with little apology.

Much of this started with the hiring of Jeff Tedford as football coach in 2002. Now the Bears are ready to build a $125 million athletic performance center and spend $175 million on renovating Memorial Stadium.

Among those opposing the athletic performance center are a group of tree-sitters who have been living in an oak grove that will be razed to build the center. The project is facing a legal challenge and a judge is scheduled to render a decision in the next two weeks.

Even if Cal loses in the courts, it's clear the Golden Bears will not turning back the clock to 1987.

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