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Sunday, Jun 4, 2023

Letter Valley

Sports and CSUN I understand the frustration expressed by the San Fernando Valley business leaders in your recent article on the decision by Cal State Northridge to eliminate certain men’s sports (“Valley Business Leaders Slam CSUN Officials,” July San Fernando Valley Business Journal). Their frustration and sadness mirror the reactions of campus leaders, including those who had to make the difficult judgment call that has caused such controversy for the last month. However, it seems to me that the public and media reactions largely ignore one crucial element of the decision: The core concern of this university as of any other university must be its academic programs. I believe that the decision made by President Blenda Wilson was necessary in light of other possible alternatives, some of which might have compromised the university’s ability to serve the thousands of students whose primary reason for coming here is to obtain a quality education. For example, to make up for the $800,000 deficit in the athletics budget, funds might have been drawn from academic programs. But $800,000 represents the annual cost of maintenance, repair and support for all desktop computers (approximately 5,000 workstations) on campus. Or, the same amount could be used to equip a new 40-station student computer lab in each of the university’s eight colleges. With decreases in state support for higher education and a California economy that is just beginning to recover from recession, unpopular decisions on budget allocations have to be made daily at the university. Since the late 1980s, all academic programs have become more efficient, doing more with less in responding to student and community needs. As the university’s chief academic officer, I could not in good conscience ask these programs to sacrifice more for the sake of athletics. As tough as the decision was, I believe President Wilson had no other choice. A viable collegiate sports program needs to play in a conference, and the Big Sky Conference in which Northridge participates requires 14 sports, including football and basketball. In addition, football is the only sport able to generate significant revenue in the long run, no matter how little that may be initially. I sincerely hope that the frustration expressed by many of the business leaders of the San Fernando Valley is balanced by the benefit they derive from hiring the well-educated Northridge graduates of the future. LOUANNE KENNEDY Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs California State University Northridge

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