The University of California-Berkeley baseball team is slated to begin spring practice on Friday, but the important upcoming date is Monday — the day when a final decision will be made regarding the future of the program, already scheduled to be eliminated.
Monday is the deadline for activists to raise $25 million to save five athletic programs slated for elimination at Cal, including baseball. Last September Cal officials announced the five programs would be dropped to close a $12 million athletic-department deficit, but alumni asked for time to raise money to keep them alive. Evans Diamond has seen a lot of good players pass through the gates over the years, such as Andy Messersmith, Geoff Blum, Jackie Jensen, Mike Epstein and Jeff Kent. Many have stepped up to donate money to the program as well.
According to Sam Petke, a board member of the Cal Baseball Foundation, $15 million has been raised. But school officials say it will take $25 million to save the five programs in the short term and $80 million to set up an endowment fund to keep the programs running in the long term.
If the school administration reaffirms its decision to drop baseball, all players will be released from their scholarships and be allowed to transfer immediately to another school. There will still be 10 schools playing baseball in the Pac-10: newcomer Utah fields a baseball program, but Colorado does not.
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