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Men's gymnastics program to continue at Cal

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Men's gymnastics program to continue at Cal

May 2, 2011

BERKELEY -- As a result of fundraising efforts that have raised in excess of 2.5 million, the mens gymnastics program at the University of California, Berkeley, will be preserved as an Intercollegiate Athletics sport, campus officials announced Monday.
RELATED: It's official -- Cal baseball will return for 2011-12
The total, though short of the 4 million necessary to fund the teams current direct and indirect costs, will support the program for at least 7-10 years in combination with steps to reduce annual operating expenses. Specifically, until the ultimate fundraising goal is met, mens gymnastics will be limited in its ability to provide financial aid to future student-athletes. For the time being, scholarship commitments will be offered at present levels only to returning student-athletes, while athletic scholarship aid for new recruits, an essential element to sustain a program that has consistently ranked among the top five in the country, will be restricted until funding is in place.While Cal Athletics and the mens gymnastics community of supporters, coaches and student-athletes understand that this new scholarship model is far from ideal, the decision to allow the team to continue removes the broader uncertainty regarding the programs future. As additional money is raised toward the 4 million objective, scholarships will be incrementally increased as possible.We recognize the importance of providing stability for mens gymnastics at this important juncture and are reinstating the program under the conditions that are supported by current financial resources, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said. Once again, I want to thank our donors for their unprecedented response during these challenging economic times. Not only are we able to maintain our full complement of intercollegiate athletic programs, but we are also able to remain on our path to reduce annual support to Intercollegiate Athletics to 5 million by 2014.Several factors led to making the announcement today in advance of reaching the 4 million fundraising goal. Most importantly, any delay would have a significant detrimental effect on the ability of the mens gymnastics program to compete in both the near and medium term.With the 2011 season complete and the spring semester nearing its end, current student-athletes have already begun visiting other schools to consider transferring. In addition, Cals coaching staff will be able to participate in the final recruiting cycle for the 2011-12 year that starts at the end of this week.Under the director of first-year head coach Tim McNeill, named the 2011 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Coach of the Year, the Golden Bears placed fourth at the NCAA Championships April 15. Overall, Cal has finished among the top five nationally 20 times since 1959, winning NCAA titles in 1968, 75, 97 and 98.Words cannot even begin to express how happy I am that the Cal mens gymnastics team has been reinstated, McNeill said. Im so thankful for the outpouring of support we received, from Cals athletic department, the Chancellor, our incredible alumni and the team members parents who worked around the clock to make this happen. This result would not have been possible if not for the current teams never-give-up attitude. They held their heads high all year and have not only inspired me, but the entire gymnastics community. This last year was our 99th season, and Im absolutely elated that we will be here to see our 100th season and beyond.Since UC Berkeley announced last September that four sports baseball, mens gymnastics, womens gymnastics and womens lacrosse would be eliminated and rugby assigned to a newly created tier at the end of the 2010-11 academic year, donors have pledged more than 20 million to allow for the preservation of all five programs at the Intercollegiate Athletics level. These substantial commitments, in combination with expected ongoing fundraising efforts, will fully support the costs, both direct and indirect, of each team and enable Cal Athletics to remain on its path to financial sustainability and honor the campuss decision to cap institutional support for athletics at 5 million a year by 2014.We have much to be appreciative for and I couldnt be happier for member of our mens gymnastics program, Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour said. Our community has made its passion for our athletic programs abundantly clear for all to see. Throughout this challenging year, our teams and our student-athletes have performed at a level that rivals the best in our history. To say that Cal Athletics, together with our community, has risen to the challenge is indeed an understatement.We are absolutely thrilled that the Chancellor has given the mens gymnastics team the opportunity to continue its 99-year tradition of excellence, said Neil Popovic, a Cal gymnast from 1979-83 and one of the leaders of the mens gymnastics fundraising effort.This decision means the amazing young scholar-athletes on the team can recognize their dream of competing at the highest level of mens gymnastics and pursuing a world-class education at Cal.Many, manypeople contributed to this effort, and they should all be proud, as should Chancellor Birgeneau, Athletic Director Sandy Barbour and the entire Cal sports community.What a great team effort!

Courtesy Cal media services

Pence chases Span home in win over Phillies: 'That's Hunter being Hunter'

Pence chases Span home in win over Phillies: 'That's Hunter being Hunter'

SAN FRANCISCO — Denard Span has played enough center field at AT&T Park that he knew not to assume anything when Jarrett Parker crushed a ball to dead center. Span, standing on second, held up for a second to make sure the ball got over Nick Williams. Hunter Pence, standing on first, had a better view, and he took off with the crack of the bat. As Pence approached Span, he tried to yell over the crowd. 

“Go!” Pence yelled.

Span didn’t hear him. 

“I just felt him,” he said later, smiling. 

Span raced around third and Pence roared up on his back like the third sprinter in a 4x100 relay trying to hand off a baton. Span crossed first and Pence was inches behind him, stretching the lead to three runs. 

“It’s one of those plays that’s a little weird but it worked out,” Pence said. 

Jeff Samardzija, the pitcher of record in a 5-4 win over the Phillies, said Pence “was on a mission.” Span said simply, “That’s Hunter being Hunter.”

“I knew he was right on my heels,” he said. “I was trying to run as fast as I could. In my defense, he had a running start. It was fun, though, it was fun. I’ve never had anyone chasing me like that on the bases.”

The moment brought some levity to a season that’s been lacking it. Span laughed as he crossed the plate and the dugout was full of smiles and jokes as the two returned. But on a grander scale, it was a reminder of what Pence has been and what the Giants need him to be if they are to recover from this season. Pence is signed for 2018 at a hefty price. The odds are good that he'll be in right field, so it’s been a relief for coaches and team officials to see Pence pick it up in recent weeks. 

Pence had a hit and two walks on Thursday, scoring two runs and driving in another. He is batting .346 in August. 

“He has just been making more consistent contact and staying in the strike zone more,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

That has led to better results at the plate, and Pence has provided reminders that the physical skills are still there. After going 0-for-AT&T Park in the first half he hit a couple of homers on the last homestand. Statcast’s Sprint Speed shows that Pence is actually running faster at his top speed than in the past couple of years, when he battled injuries. Pence is at 28.2 feet per second this year, a tick up from 28.1 each of the past two seasons. 

“Baseball goes in waves,” he said. “I’ve had some tough stretches, but right now I’m in a stretch where I’m going better and I’m still trying to improve.”

On Thursday, he pushed a teammate to run just a little faster. But perhaps Pence’s good friend deserves some credit for Span’s speed, too. After stealing his fifth base a few days back, Buster Posey started needling Span. The leadoff hitter has three stolen bases in seven games since that point, getting to eight for the year. 

“He was just talking too much trash,” Span said of Posey. 

Span said Posey mentioned their equal stolen base totals two or three times. He didn’t respond because he couldn’t. Now, he has bragging rights again, and he’s enjoying it. 

“Check the tapes,” Span said as reporters started to walk away from his locker. “I think I’ve got a stolen base off of him.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as Giants fight off Phillies for victory

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as Giants fight off Phillies for victory

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — In a battle of the National League’s two worst teams, the Giants struck first. 

The lineup jumped out to an early lead and the new-look bullpen took it home in a 5-4 win over the visiting Phillies. The Giants scored five runs off budding ace Aaron Nola, and Mark Melancon, Hunter Strickland and Sam Dyson shut it down in the final three innings, in that (new) order. 

What a recipe for a victory. They should try that more often, in my opinion. Anyway, here are five things you should know … 

—- Hunter Pence and Denard Span combined for a funny moment in the three-run fifth. Span held up on Jarrett Parker’s ball off the wall and then took off from second; Pence had been on first, and he ran right up Span’s back as they approached the plate. Span heard him coming. He was laughing as he scored. 

—- With those runs, the Giants became the first team since June 16 to score more than two runs off Nola. The 2017 Giants are weird. 

—- Span stole second before scoring in the fifth. He has three stolen bases in seven games since Buster Posey’s mini run-of-speed. Posey had been talking trash to the leadoff hitter. 

—- Jeff Samardzija got the win, but this wasn’t one he’ll remember fondly. He needed a slick Tomlinson-Crawford double play to help get through the sixth. Samardzija was charged with four earned on eight hits.

—- Cameron Rupp flipped his bat when he hit a rocket off Samardzija in the fifth. It for sure looked like a premature bat-flip, but the ball kept carrying and landed in the arcade section above Triples Alley. Cameron Rupp is right-handed. That’s an absolute blast for a right-hander in a night game at AT&T Park. I don’t know where he would play but the Giants should trade for him.