Media Coverage 6/12/17

Berkeley’s Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletics released a report this past week which highlighted the immense financial shadow the university’s stadium casts over the entire campus. As a Dead Spin headline succinctly and colorfully noted, “Cal Is Fucked Because Of Its Stupid Stadium Deal.” The over $400 million debt tied to seismic retrofitting of Memorial Stadium and the creation of a new gym could continue to cost the university well into the next century. Interest on Cal Athletics’ debt will exceed income for the foreseeable future, the report notes. Media accounts focused on the task force’s failure to reach a consensus on cutting any specific sports programs, a move a San Jose Mercury News columnist mocked as indecisive. Instead, the task force recommends cutting administrative costs and conducting an external review of Cal Athletics.

In other news, an article in the San Francisco Chronicle asked whether recent UC regents appointments violate the law. According to the state constitution, a 12-member advisory committee is supposed to be consulted by the governor before appointments are made. In recent memory, the advisory committee has been inactive and members are simply informed who will be appointed, the paper reports. The article also raises questions as to whether the composition of the regents reflects the state’s diversity. Following a 1974 amendment, the state constitution reads regents should be “broadly reflective of the economic, cultural, and social diversity of the state, including ethnic minorities and women.”

The state’s revised budget should be finalized by June 15. As of the weekend, the budget was poised to directly fund UCOP, a move recommended by the recent state audit which was very critical of the office led by UC President Janet Napolitano. In the past, UCOP was funded through assessing fees on each UC campus. The funding change is intended to give the legislature more control over UCOP. Meanwhile, the future of a middle class scholarship program is up in the air, though a report on Thursday suggested the program, which Gov. Brown proposed to be scrapped, will survive.

Regents

6/10 – Are governors ignoring law when appointing UC regents? (SFChronicle): The article notes the tony makeup of the regents:

Of the 18 appointed regents, including the four just named, half are financiers, corporate executives, investors, real-estate developers or corporate attorneys. Three are former politicians. One is Brown’s senior policy adviser, and another — a former finance expert at UC — is chief financial officer at a company that supplies technology to a private college in San Francisco. The others are an eye doctor, a Sacramento lobbyist, a nonprofit policy director, and the chancellor of the California Community College system.

Cal Athletics

6/7 – Cal Is Fucked Because Of Its Stupid Stadium Deal (DeadSpin):  As the article notes, Cal’s debt may last into 2113, at which point, statistically speaking, it’s not too unlikely the “big one” will have struck, potentially destroying the stadium.

6/5 – No Cal sports cut yet, athletics task force says (DailyCal): The student newspaper notes that, despite the university’s claims that such debt is a problem for universities across the country, Cal leads the nation with the greatest debt.

6/6 – Column: On Cal’s task force, the debt vise, squandered opportunities, donor truth and the future of the athletic department (SJMN): The article is critical of the task force for failing to take a stand on cuts. It begins with the memorable lede: “The inspiring, frustrating, complicated, money-losing, opportunity-creating, labyrinthine, heart-breaking, title-winning 30-sport behemoth that is the Cal athletic program has claimed another task force, outwitted more sharp minds and remained an unsolvable puzzle at a university that has won 22 Nobel Prizes.”

6/5 – UC regents hires law firm to investigate central office’s handling of state audit (SJMN): The Regents hired Former California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno to conduct an investigation into whether UCOP interfered with the state’s recent audit. 

Read a statement from Regents Chair Monica Lozano here.

Budget

6/8 – California budget panel approves spending plan as talks with Brown continue (SacBee): According to the article:

Acting on the findings of a recent state audit castigating UC’s leadership, meanwhile, Thursday’s agreement will pay for the University of California Office of the President out of the general fund. The $296.4 million will replace assessments the office now collects on individual campuses, a situation that the Bureau of State Audits found had contributed to the university’s need fr increase tuition.

6/8 – Partial California Budget Deal Reached, But Sticking Points Remain (CapRadio): Unlike below, this more recent article notes the middle-class scholarship program may be spared.

6/6 – How should California spend $180 billion-plus? Here’s what is under negotiation in Sacramento (LATimes): The article notes uncertainty around Gov. Brown’s plans to cut out a middle-class scholarship program.

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