Pay for play: Cal

July, 13, 2011
07/13/11
9:13
AM ET

What a full scholarship at Cal-Berkeley entails: $24,793 resident, $47,671 nonresident (includes tuition, room, board, supplies, etc.)

Cost of attendance: For resident living on campus: $31,566; off-campus $27,094. Nonresident living on campus: $54,444; off campus: $49,942. Tuition and fees, $11,766 resident/$22,878 nonresident; books and supplies, $1,202.

Revenue/expense figures are for 2009-10.

When Cal's volleyball team took the floor at Kansas City's Sprint Center last December for the Final Four, the band wearing Cal shirts enthusiastically began to play the school's fight song.

A closer look, though, revealed that some of the musicians looked awfully young to be college students. For good reason: It actually wasn't Cal's band, but that of a local KC high school called in to pinch hit.

With the state of California in a budgetary crisis and the announcement in September of four sports being cut while one moved to club status at Cal, athletic director Sandy Barbour felt she couldn't justify the expense of transporting the band to the Midwest.

It was one of the painful belt-tightening moves the athletic department had to make. But seven months later, Cal has definitely found the light at the end of the tunnel. The imperiled programs reached out to their alumni bases and the community at large with an impassioned SOS.

One by one, the sports were salvaged: men's and women's gymnastics, women's lacrosse, baseball and rugby. The baseball team then became one of the stories of this past school year when the Bears advanced to the College World Series.

"The good news is that the model we're moving toward, which is more self-sufficiency, means communities understand they have to raise money for programs to sustain themselves," Barbour said. "Having changed that culture, or at least started to shift it, there will be a better ability to keep up with expenses.

"Those weren't the only measures that were took. There were other things we did to trim expenses. The mindset has become more, 'We need to insulate ourselves against other issues that might come down the road.'"

It was a very successful year for Cal despite the cloud that hung over the athletic department as the endangered sports battled to stay alive. The Bears' women's program finished third in the Capital One Cup standings behind rival Stanford and Texas A&M. Cal's men's program finished sixth. The Bears won both the men's and women's NCAA titles in swimming.

Having survived intact this school year after all, the Cal athletics department isn't exactly eager, of course, to tackle the question of potentially adding additional expense with a pay-for-play concept. But Barbour is open to the idea that some changes probably should be made to address athletes' full scope of needs.

"I definitely think there are some solutions," she said. "Determining what's fair and what's right is a challenge. Do I think any solution is going to satisfy everybody? No, but we've all got to be working from the same set of facts and have questions answered in terms of taking care of things like cost-of-attendance criteria."

Pay for play: Eye on the schools

Mechelle Voepel joined ESPN.com in 1996 and covers women's college hoops, the WNBA, the LPGA, and additional collegiate sports for espnW.

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