It's official -- Cal baseball will return for 2011-12


It's official -- Cal baseball will return for 2011-12

April 8, 2011

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BERKLEY (AP) -- California is keeping baseball after all.

Nearly two months after the university reinstated three other teams that were slated for elimination, the school said Friday that baseball would survive after a massive fundraising effort by alumni, former players, parents of current players and other team supporters.

Cal said financial commitments totaling 9 million were presented to Chancellor Robert Birgeneau on Thursday by former Golden Bears pitcher and fundraising leader Stu Gordon. The total was short of the initial 10 million goal so additional money is still needed in this effort but the Cal administration was confident enough to announce the program would be saved.

"It was a very trying time and an ordeal for us but what came out of it was a resolve led by our alumni," Bears coach Dave Esquer said. "I'm just so proud of that group that would not take no for an answer. It finally came through with a resolution we've all been waiting for."

Esquer received the news early Friday from athletic director Sandy Barbour, who lauded the efforts of former Cal players and alumni for helping to save the program.

"This is a good day for the Cal Athletics family," Barbour said. "By confronting adversity through cooperation, we are now in a much better position going forward. We have all learned important lessons that will serve us well in the future."

The Bears are in Tucson, Ariz., to begin a three-game series against the Wildcats. Esquer delivered the news to his players after calling them together for what was supposed to be a scouting report meeting. A loud cheer went up in the room after the coach spoke.

"He dropped the news on us and it was just a big chip off our shoulders," junior catcher Chadd Krist said. "We no longer have to really worry about our future. Our future is with Cal baseball and with the University of California."

In February, Birgeneau partially reversed a decision announced last September when he said that enough money had been raised to keep the men's rugby, women's lacrosse and women's gymnastics teams. The two women's teams had been slated for elimination, while men's rugby was going to be reclassified as a "varsity club sport."

Campus officials said they received between 12 million and 13 million in pledges to retain the programs with 8 million available to cover the costs of the three sports for seven to 10 years.

Vice Chancellor Frank Yeary said at the time that the pledges specifically for baseball and men's gymnastics were insufficient. In February, Cal said the baseball program had raised between 1.5 million and 2.5 million, which would have covered its costs for about two years but was still well short of that 10 million goal for long-term sustainability.

"I have been so impressed with the combined efforts of the alumni, parents, volunteers, friends and coaches who have not only expanded the Cal baseball family, but who have also strengthened it," Gordon said. "We are thankful that the chancellor has been supportive of our efforts to save Cal baseball through our fundraising efforts, and that the Cal athletic department has been working with us to support those efforts. I am confident that we will meet our fundraising goal of 10 million very shortly and am ecstatic that we can continue the storied Cal baseball tradition in the future."

The university also said that baseball supporters will work closely with the school to develop a strategic plan to raise significant additional annual resources beginning with the 2011-12 season through improved game-day revenue and annual gift and special event revenue.

The plan to cut the sports was part of a broader campaign to reduce UC Berkeley's annual support for intercollegiate athletics from more than 12 million to about 5 million in 2014 as a result of the state of California's reduced support of higher education.

Men's gymnastics is still short of its fundraising goal to be reinstated, having gathered just under half of the 4 million required to operate the team for the next seven to 10 years, but Barbour said she hopes the momentum from baseball will help the cause and lead to a successful outcome.

Cousins buys chocolate from kids for charity, donates bars to flight staff

Cousins buys chocolate from kids for charity, donates bars to flight staff

DeMarcus Cousins leads the NBA in technical fouls. He also leads the league in scowls and he’s even kicked over a few garbage cans following the Kings' loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night. But that’s just a small portion of who he is.

According to a source that travels with the team, Cousins went out of his way Sunday morning to make an impact in the lives of a couple of local youth in Chicago.

Kids were selling chocolate bars outside the team’s hotel trying to earn money for charity. Plenty of people walked by, avoiding the youth, but Cousins stopped, reached into his pocket and purchased all of the boxes they had to sell.

Later on in the day, Cousins donated the candy to the flight service staff for use on the flight to Detroit.

Cousins gets plenty of negative press for his antics on the floor, but off the court, he is extremely generous. He plays Santa-Cuz during the holidays, buying gifts for underprivileged children in Sacramento and his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. He has also purchased a new scoreboard for a local high school and even paid for the funeral of a local high school football player who lost his life in a drive-by shooting.

No one is perfect, Cousins included, but he also has a genuinely good side that he often doesn’t seek or receive press for.


Kirk Cousins watches Kyle Shanahan's offense carve up Packers

Kirk Cousins watches Kyle Shanahan's offense carve up Packers

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. His uncertain status has led to speculation presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan will be interested in acquiring him in the offseason.

On Sunday, Cousins got a first-hand look at his former coach’s offense.

Cousins posted a photo on Instagram from the stands at the Georgia Dome, where the Atlanta Falcons and their high-octane offense blasted the Green Bay Packers, 44-21, in the NFC Championship game.

Cousins wrote the caption, “Watching two of the best in the world do what they do & taking notes to make it to this game next year -score a lot of points!”

Washington finished third in the NFC East and out of the playoffs with an 8-7-1 record.

Shanahan, the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, coached Cousins for the first two seasons of his NFL career with Washington on the staff of his father, Mike Shanahan. Cousins appeared in just eight games with four starts in 2012 and ’13.

Cousins' career has taken off in the past two seasons while starting all 32 regular-season games. He completed 67 percent of his passes this season with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and a passer rating of 97.2.

Washington placed the franchise tag on Cousins this season at nearly $20 million. He franchise tag is expected to be approximately $24 million in 2017.

If Washington places the non-exclusive franchise tag on Cousins, a team could sign him to an offer sheet at the cost of two first-round draft picks or negotiate a trade with Washington for a lesser amount.