Let me explain why: In 2011, Santa Barbara City College hired a new athletic director (AD). The new AD had limited AD experience. In 2012, SBCC hired a new president. The new president had three years of community college president experience. Both were from Northern California. Without much time to experience the Santa Barbara community, they elected to suspend the SBCC men’s tennis team in 2013, and it has been eliminated ever since, even though every local high school has a boys tennis team.
The reasons given for the suspension have been many from metrics (GPA, retention, graduation, etc.) to surveys and data that were not substantiated at the time of the suspension. The men’s tennis team had the highest GPA of all the other men’s teams. Both the president and the AD stated that the team was not suspended for budgetary or financial reasons. However, in order to reinstate the men’s tennis team, SBCC wants the community to raise $90,000 over three years.
It is my opinion that the previous AD decided to take the men’s tennis budget of $30,000 ($20,000 of which paid for the coach’s salary) to finance a women’s swim program as recommended by Title IX. That program also states: “it was never the intent of Title IX to eliminate men’s programs to add women’s programs and if that happens it violates the spirit of Title IX.” The #1 CC in the nation is now violating the spirit of Title IX because the men’s tennis team has been eliminated and women’s swimming and water polo have been added. I have three athletic daughters and support Title IX.
Rather than cut the entire athletic budget by, say, 10 percent or solicit help from the local swim/athletic community, the AD decided to throw the men’s tennis team under the bus even though the team had a history of 46 successful years. The team has now been suspended (eliminated) for 2013, 2014, and 2015 and who knows how much longer. This is the first time in the history of SBCC that an intercollegiate sport was eliminated. President Lori Gaskin and AD Ryan Byrne could have prevented this from happening but did not. It was a terrible mistake. When a community task force was organized to negotiate with the AD to reinstate the team, the first of several requirements was that the task force must raise $30,000 for three years. No other SBCC intercollegiate team has this requirements.
Should the task force agree to the terms, the same community members who will be paying higher property taxes if Measure S passes must now also finance the men’s tennis team.
A note of interest: The men’s soccer team has 27 out-of-country players from a roster of 31. The football team has over half of its roster from out of state or out of country. Only a small percentage of our local athletes are on SBCC athletic intercollegiate teams. One of the missions of a CC is to meet the needs of its own community.
Measure S will spend $45 million for a new sports pavilion but cannot afford a men’s tennis team. As a matter of fact, your present property tax bill includes payment from the SBCC 2008 measure V bond issue, and part of that bond money was used to build a new football press box. (I played CC football.)
You decide whether or not the present administration can be trusted with $288 million. In my opinion, the administration could not be up front and honest about $30,000, so I am voting “no” on S. SBCC is a community college, not a four-year institution, and let us keep it that way.
Jack Sanford is an SBCC emeritus professor of Physical Education.