Bad times for the University of California at Irvine sailing team. They are not alone, as five athletic programs have been cut at the school, including swimming. We spoke with Mike Pinckney, head of the sailing team…
SA: We understand that five athletic programs at UC Irvine were cut, one of them being sailing. These are budgetary moves initiated by the school? How much money are we talking for the sailing program?
MP: 250k over 5yrs, after which they say we will need to raise another 250k for the next 5yrs. Its really not that much $$ when you look at other college sailing programs…probably a fraction of the budget of east coast schools.
SA: Is this the end of the program? Is there no other way to find funding?
MP: The team currently has some reserve cash set aside for rainy days…these are definitely rainy days. We are actively pursuing many fundraising options and are currently accepting donations at: www.anteatersailing.com
SA: Are other UC Sailing programs in trouble?
MP: We can only assume so; however, this was definitely a UCI athletic dept decision.
SA: Do you see collegiate sailing programs from all types of school to be in trouble, given the economic climate?
MP: I would be surprised if teams broke any fundraising records towards the end of last year and beginning of this year. Unfortunately its a revenue thing for the Athletic dept. and you can’t charge people to watch sailing from the shoreline and the advertising they invest in the team is non-existent. It’s an old way of thinking and not very creative. UCI practices in the middle of Newport Beach bay where there are thousands of people every day; you’ve gotta think they could figure out a way to monetize that audience.
SA: Is there a solution to sailing programs being cut, or is it simply a fringe sport that is easily expendable to the administration?
MP: interesting question
SA: And what does your future hold?
MP: I’m disappointed about the team being cut from varsity; obviously I would much prefer staying with the program. Economically, it may be tough or impossible top do that.