Philip George, Spring 2009 Assistant Sports Editor
Pierce College’s quest to debut a men’s soccer team in the upcoming fall semester has hit a temporary snag due to California’s statewide budget cuts authorized on Feb. 16.
Adolfo Perez, women’s soccer coach and prospective men’s coach, said that adding men’s soccer ran smoothly before the cuts, with Pierce already recruiting 20-30 potential players.
“I was told that there was a great possibility,” said Perez. “It was going to happen and then something happened.”
What happened was legislation, designed to chip away at California’s projected $14.5 billion deficit over the next two fiscal years by authorizing $2 billion in budget cuts – a large portion coming out of the state’s educational system.
“Now is not necessarily the time when we can afford to expand our offerings both in men’s and women’s sports when we’re trying to make sure we maintain our focus on the facilities and the courses across campus that we offer,” said Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh, vice president of academic affairs.
Athletic director Bob Lofrano still remains a strong advocate of the program even through the budget slashing.
“I think it’s part of the experience of going to college,” Lofrano said. “It’s just as important as going to a class and learning how to do mathematics and chemistry.”
Lofrano also offered his own suggestion about how to raise the money for a men’s soccer program.
“We’ll have men’s soccer when they start taxing the yachts in the marina,” Lofrano proclaimed, referring to a tax loophole which allows owners of private boats, planes and RVs to avoid being hit with the California sales tax.
The loophole allows California buyers to take delivery of the items in states such as Oregon, which does not impose a sales tax, leave them parked for 90 days and finally bring them into California.
If the loophole is closed, it would provide approximately $26 million towards the budget deficit, some of which Lofrano believes could be used toward funding the school’s estimated $50,000-$60,000 soccer project.
Perez suggested that a men’s soccer team in itself would provide the entire school with an economic boost, citing major universities as examples.
“You look at USC; they get $15 million for a bowl game,” said Perez. “Not everything goes to the football team. They make the money and it goes to the science department, to the music department.”
Title IX, a clause which states that a school must have one women’s athletic team for every men’s team, may also interfere with Pierce’s goal.
One idea that had been proposed as to how to satisfy Title IX was the implementation of a women’s cross country team.
“We have the best cross country [facility] in Southern California without a cross country team,” said Perez.
Even through the budget crisis, Abu-Ghazaleh has vowed to stay the course in hopes that this idea will become a reality.
“We shouldn’t wait for the budget to get better before we start talking about it again,” Abu-Ghazaleh said, “but rather to be ready with a plan for a time that we can implement it.”