By Morris Phillips
Some impressive, some disappointing. That’s Sandy Barbour’s 10-year run as athletic director at Cal in a nutshell.
UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced Friday that Barbour is leaving her post at UC Berkeley and will be replaced on an interim basis by H. Michael Williams, a retired finance executive has served as a Cal trustee since 2007. Barbour will formally leave her post on July 15 and take a position in the Berkeley Extension Program where she will develop a program in sports management.
“After nearly 10 years leading Intercollegiate Athletics at Cal, 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,” Barbour 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.’
Under Barbour, Memorial Stadium was renovated, a new student-athlete performance center was built and the athletic department saw tremendous successes in many of the minor sports as well as men’s and women’s basketball where Barbour hires Mike Montgomery, Joanne Boyle and Lindsay Gottlieb had impressive runs.
But football is the bellwether program of any successful athletic department, and the Cal Bears have seen the transition from Jeff Tedford to Sonny Dykes go horribly in its first year. The Bears finished 1-11 and weren’t competitive in many of those games in 2013. Adding to misery of Cal fans is the ascension of rival Stanford into a national powerhouse in the sport blowing away any arguments that say big-time football and lofty academic institutions don’t mix.
Even bigger issues swirled in Barbour’s final years at the helm in the academic performance of the football team and the escalating debt—over $400 million in 2013—for the reconstruction of the football stadium. Even before the stadium was rebuilt, budget issues caused several sports to be cut, including baseball temporarily until donors came to the rescue and preserved the program.
Williams will hold the athletic director post until a permanent replacement can be found through a national search. A preliminary timeline has been set that has the process of a new hire taking four to six months to be completed.