By DAN GOLDMAN
The state budget crisis has finally filtered its way down to community college athletic programs.
With programs and budgets being slashed statewide in the wake of a $34 billion deficit, the California Community College Commission on Athletics has done its part by earmarking 16 sports programs for reductions of 10 to 20 percent in the maximum number of games which teams will play in the 2003-04 season.
What that translates to for Columbia College's two COA-sponsored athletic programs men's basketball and women's volleyball is a reduction in regular and postseason action.
The men's basketball regular season schedule will be slashed 15 percent (from 28 to 24 games) while the Northern and Southern California playoffs will take an even more dramatic hit going from a 32-team bracket to a 16-team field.
Likewise, the women's volleyball regular season will go from 24 regular-season games to 21, and the playoffs will be reduced to a single-elimination tournament of four teams.
But because both men's basketball and women's volleyball are responsible for funding their own budgets at Columbia College, neither program expects to see much change in terms of its day-to-day operations.
"It won't affect us at all," said Claim Jumpers' basketball coach Andy Vasher, whose team annually works with a $35,000-40,000 operating budget. "I mean, you can't cut what you're not getting.
"If anything, it's going to save us a little because we're going to play four fewer games."
Under the 28-game format, Columbia basketball has traditionally played 14 Central Valley Conference games and 14 non-conference games. Next season, the Jumpers will still play 14 CVC games, but only 10 non-conference games, which means the 2003-04 schedule is in a state of flux.