Sandy Barbour out as Cal AD; former wrestler Michael Williams in as interim
BERKELEY, Calif. -- California announced a change in leadership in the athletic program Friday, signaling the end of a 10-year run by athletic director Sandy Barbour that featured great success in non-revenue sports as well as recent struggles on and off the field for the high-profile football team.
Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said the department needed a "fresh perspective" and said former Cal wrestler Michael Williams will take over as interim AD while the school seeks a full-time replacement for Barbour.
Barbour arrived in 2004 and oversaw 19 team national championships, 92 titles in individual events, a Pac-10 co-championship in football, the first men's basketball conference title in 50 years and the first Final Four trip for the women's basketball team.
Cal placed in the top 10 of the Directors' Cup six times since 2004-05, including a high of third place three years ago.
Barbour also oversaw the construction of a new football facility and a major renovation to Memorial Stadium and made strong hires to bring on Mike Montgomery as men's basketball coach in 2008 and Gottlieb as women's basketball coach in 2011.
Montgomery retired after this past season and was replaced by Cuonzo Martin, who led Tennessee to the regional semifinals in the NCAA tournament in 2014.
But Barbour's tenure was not without its troubles. The football team struggled in coach Jeff Tedford's final years at the school and he was fired after going 3-9 in 2012. Barbour hired Sonny Dykes as his replacement and the Golden Bears went 1-11 in his first season, failing to beat a single FBS team.
Cal also had the lowest graduation rate for football players among major conference teams, according to data released by the NCAA last fall. The program has shown significant improvement of late in its academic performance after Barbour put more emphasis on academic support.
Dykes said Barbour did a tremendous job as Cal AD. "The impact she made during her tenure will have a positive and lasting effect on all of our sport programs well into the future," Dykes said in a statement.
Dirks said that after several discussions with Barbour the two decided this was the right time for a change in leadership.
"Being the director of athletics at a high-profile place like Berkeley is an extraordinary challenge; even in the best of times people in these positions face constant scrutiny, and that can be draining," Dirks said. "Given the challenges and opportunities that lie before us, we believe our university will benefit from leadership that can provide new energy and a fresh perspective."
Williams was a collegiate wrestler at Cal and graduated in 1982 with a degree in economics. He worked for Barclays Global Investors for more than 16 years before retiring in 2009. He currently serves as vice chair of the UC Berkeley Foundation and is a past chair of the foundation's Campaign Steering Committee.
Williams was also a member of the Chancellor's Task Force on Academics and Athletics, which will issue a report later this summer.
"I am honored and humbled by this opportunity to give back to a university and intercollegiate athletics program that played such an important role in my life," Williams said. "I look forward to engaging with all of Berkeley's stakeholders working in close concert with the amazing student-athletes, coaches and staff that comprise the incomparable Cal athletics family."
Barbour will remain at Cal and set up an academic program in sports management on campus.
"It is time for me to move to a different chapter of my professional life and for Cal to have an opportunity for a new perspective in its leadership of the intercollegiate athletics program," she said. "This is a great university. I am honored to have the opportunity to continue my service in another venue, and to continue to contribute in a variety of other ways."
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