Cal football announces fund to support assistant salaries, recruiting, player wellness
Crucial step forward for the program.
In his National Signing Day press conference and in recent reports, California Golden Bears head coach Justin Wilcox emphasized the improved administrative support that will hopefully bring Cal back to an elevated place in the Pac-12 landscape. Some of those changes materialized this week.
Cal Athletics announced on Monday the establishment of a new fund specifically targeted at supporting the California Golden Bears football program. It takes aim at three specific target points to ensure improvement.
Student-athlete wellness: An increased commitment to the overall student-athlete experience, including an enhanced nutrition and fueling program
After the APR struggles a decade ago, Cal has put a renewed emphasis on academic support for athletes. This fund works on another crucial aspect of football performance, this one meant to ensure nutrition and recovery. This will be a major boon for Cal players who have struggled with food insecurity and ability to afford Bay Area meals on a limited student-athlete stipend. Steve’s Korean cannot be an everyday lifestyle.
And it’ll hopefully tamper down a major negative recruiting point compared to some of their California counterparts UCLA spends the most money among any major Power 5 program on nutrition. Stanford is historically famous for their diet/conditioning program. It appears it paid off this year with an 8-win season. Considering Berkeley is one of the most expensive places on the planet to eat, this fund should help improve on-field performance.
Recruiting – increasing travel funds, staffing and the use of software to strengthen the recruiting process
Cal has not recruited particularly well in the past decade (only two consensus top-35 classes since Sonny Dykes was hired), capping their ability to perform at an elite level. Crucial to that is a support staff that can provide the coaches the information they need to make critical decisions on who might be most interested in becoming a Golden Bear. Administratively, Cal is behind the eight-ball of most major Power 5 programs in terms of recruiting support.
These moves are critical as other Pac-12 stalwarts like USC (with the hiring of Lincoln Riley), Oregon and Washington (who hired top recruiting operations assistants to ensure they’re on top of their national game) try to up their game.
Staffing - enhancing salaries to recruit and retain elite coaches and support staff
This is certainly an old issue with regards to Cal. The average tenure of an assistant at Cal is only several years, with most coaches getting poached or leaving for more established positions. Cal most recently lost both their offensive and special teams coordinators to FCS head coaching jobs (Beau Baldwin to Cal Poly, Charlie Ragle to Idaho State), but also has seen several position coaches depart for moves to more established programs (Tim DeRuyter and Marcel Yates to Oregon being the most recent example).
Cal also has to handle the burden of being situated in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country, making it difficult for assistants to enjoy the usual high standard of living they would get in smaller college town environments.
A set of donors have already come forth to contribute $2 million over three years. There are three levels ($25K, $50K, $100K a year) at which you can get into the very exclusive club and get that insider knowledge that will make you a very cool person, but it seems anyone is able to contribute to the fund.
So any pitched small donations can make a difference to the program.