The Univ. of California-Berkeley on Friday announced that its baseball program "will survive the budget-cutter's ax after all," according to Tom FitzGerald of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Although "fundraising efforts fell short of getting commitments for the university's goal of $10 million, school officials decided the $9 million that was committed was close enough." S.F.-based attorney Stu Gordon, a former pitcher at Cal, "spearheaded efforts to raise millions of dollars, including making his own donation of $550,000." Cal Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said, "It would not have happened without him." Gordon said that last week "there was some scrambling as a result of one donor's substantial reduction of his pledge." That left the effort at about $8M, "but other donors pushed the amount back" to $9M. Gordon said that "more than 1,000 people have contributed, and 40 have contributed more than $50,000 apiece." FitzGerald noted boosters "want to establish a $20 million endowment that would put the program on a sound financial footing," and hope to "make improvements all around Evans Diamond" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/9). In San Jose, Jonathan Okanes noted Birgeneau "originally told Cal baseball supporters they needed to raise" $10M for reinstatement, but with the "late signing period for high school seniors approaching Wednesday, Birgeneau accepted the $9 million figure so any players considering Cal could move forward." With the reinstatement of baseball, men's gymnastics is the "only remaining eliminated sport" at Cal, and supporters of that sport are "still working to raise funds for possible" reinstatement (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 4/9).
Under Armour Chair, President & CEO Kevin Plank helps the Univ. of Maryland "keep pace in the ever-escalating athletic arms race," according to Jeff Barker of the Baltimore SUN. Under Armour documents reveal that Plank, his foundation and his Baltimore-based company "have collectively donated more than $1.4 million" since '07 to the athletics department at his alma mater. Last year, as UM officials "raced to interview football coaching candidates, Plank paid for $31,735 in charter flights," just three months after he supplied a plane for a men's basketball recruiting trip. The "high-energy Plank, who keeps an arduous travel schedule, did not accompany Maryland officials on the coaching-search trips," but he "was a financial player." Plank said, "Maryland doesn't have the resources of planes that many others we compete against do. There's no conspiracy here. I have a plane. It's not being used." Barker noted Plank has a "dual relationship" with his alma mater. In addition to serving on UM's Board of Trustees, Plank in '08 "announced a five-year, $17.5 million agreement for Under Armour to become the official outfitter of all 27 sports teams." He said, "I keep a very clear delineation between what I'm allowed to do as (an alumnus) and what I'm allowed to do as CEO of Under Armour." While Plank has "increasingly become Maryland's go-to guy, most of his gifts have come with little public attention." In an era "when the term 'booster' can carry unwanted connotations of unchecked activities and egos, Plank seems wary that his donations could be misconstrued." He said, "I don't like being the centerpiece or a portion of the story. I don't want to be characterized as the big booster guy" (Baltimore SUN, 4/10).