I will credit Knowlton for not cutting any of Cal's 30 sports - the largest athletics program in the country for a public school (and behind only that of Stanford who recently reversed their decision to cut 11 sports). For comparison, UCLA only has only 24 sports (and none of the two big roster, non-NCAA governed male sports in Rugby and Men's Rowing that also require an equal number of female spots due to Title IX); since this week is the NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championship, I will credit a big reason for Cal becoming a national powerhouse to UCLA cutting their men's swim program in 1994. Various Cal non-revenue programs have had varying degrees of successes in trying to fundraise enough money to be financially self-sustaining.

The only way to fiscally save all the sports is to make the money on football. (If the Internet is to be believed), the top basketball programs (Louisville, Duke, Kentucky) *only* makes $20 M in basketball revenue. For comparison, Cal Football already is making around $80+ M in revenue and that number could easily go up to $100+ M with a major bowl appearance.

Sure, you would like to optimize every revenue source, but you also would need to spend money to make money. Clearly, no major Cal donor is forcing Mark Fox out yet, or more importantly, pledging the funds for Cal to competitively hire an exciting new coach.

I'm content to give Fox another year, but my fear is more that he might get an extension for only a marginal improvement of getting Cal to the NIT.

Expand full comment

Something worth noting is that Martin Year 3 revenue includes the Mizzou payment on Martin's Buy out, and Fox's year 1-2 data includes Cal paying the Jones' contract where the buy out is spread over the lifetime of the initially agreed upon Jones contract.

Expand full comment
Mar 21, 2022Liked by Rob Hwang

Well, I hear Sandy Barbour is available. Seriously, though, very well written piece. I might add that it is critical at this time that men's basketball should not be in a position to be losing money either. The athletic dept should always have searched out an up-and-comer, not a retread like Fox. Fox has actually turned out to be a little better than what I thought, though.

Expand full comment

If JK needs to feel the pulse of the fans to ascertain whether or not extending Fox is a good idea, well then JK isn't the right person for the job. 99% of the people w/ a pulse on this planet know Fox needs to be fired. They don't need to look around for a second opinion. JK is an idiot and Fox is a petulant child / bully.

Expand full comment
Mar 21, 2022·edited Mar 21, 2022

The biggest revenue generators look to be media rights and ticket sales. The biggest cost is coaching salary. The budget largely depends on the conference while ticket sales are the variable that would generate profit. And you've shown that even a best case ticket sales scenario isn't particularly lucrative.

This suggests to me that the conference's media deal is an underlying anchor dragging conference teams down and we'll just free ride until that gets renegotiated or we find revenue elsewhere. Successful teams seem to just run at a deficit or generate lots of outside cash from donors and such. It's tough to be simultaneously good at both football and basketball on a fixed budget. Guess we're a football school right now.

We're pretty good at finding good coaches for non-revenue sports so I don't think it's a competence issue. It's a money issue and the athletic department doesn't want to admit that we can't afford good coaching in sports where good coaching costs a lot, especially when competing on two fronts. (I don't think non-revenue sports are a drain or that cutting them would even make us significantly more competitive unless their costs skyrocket.)

I can't find UCLA's budget as an obvious comparison (they're often good at both sports and many others) but here's an article where they're jealous of Cal's funding.


Expand full comment

Fire Knowlton

Expand full comment
Mar 23, 2022·edited Mar 23, 2022

Just sent the message below to Nick. Would be fun to see who everyone wants to have as our next basketball coach and why. If you like the idea, please let Nick know. Tx.

Bob R.



Lots of chatter on the blog about who we should hire as our new basketball coach. People seem to indiscriminately was to hire an ex-Cal player, like Shantay Legans (Dennis Gates will probably be name a head coach at some school in the east.

I wrote the following column, which perhaps you could quickly type our and send by this Thursday. Could produce some interesting results and lots of commentary. Thanks.


Would love to hear, before I give a tentative endorsement, what Legans has done to be named our basketball coach other than to having played at Cal. We have to be careful who we select because, once selected, he will be at Cal for at least three years.

Maybe everyone who is interested in replacing Fox should select someone who should replace him and explain why that coach was selected. Would be a great thread and we can send all of the selections, with the reasoning behind them, to Knowlton.

Will be making that suggestion to Nick tonight, though I'm sure he's getting tired of my suggestions (though a few years ago there was a a contest I suggested for CGB that was actually used

Expand full comment

Since Williams (moronically) signed that no-cut contract with Wyking, Cal should have asked him to pay the severance personally.

Expand full comment


Expand full comment

Great piece. Thanks for the research. It confirms what I have been thinking. I said at the time we hired Wyking and again when we hired Fox, that the athletic department was essentially defaulting on the program. This may make some short-term financial sense, but I really wonder at what cost over the longer term. We now have a generation that has missed out on Cal hoops and largely sees the program as an un-cared-for bottom feeder not worthy of paying an even casual interest. I can only speak for myself, but going to Cal games with my family at an early age, played no small part for my choosing to attend the university, why I worked at university and why I have donated to the university for most of my adult life. It seems short sighted to not to improve performance at least enough not to alienate casual fans, alumni and students. Unlike football, the amount of money it takes to raise the basketball program a notch or two is not going to sink the rest of the ship. There's no doubt that football is the straw that stirs the financial drink, but our chances of having top-level success--much less sustained success--is really unlikely. The same can not be said for basketball, where we actually could have a premium program if we invested and were smart about it.

Expand full comment