Discover more from Write For California
UC Berkeley chancellor Carol Christ and Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton address realignment
The California Golden Bears leaders offered their thoughts and made it clear they are working hard to find a new home.
As the ACC deliberates on whether to add Cal and Stanford, some other updates closer to home:
Both of the leaders of the California Golden Bears addressed the greater UC Berkeley community this week on the state of the athletic department.
Here is Chancellor Christ’s statement:
Changing landscape of athletics
As you may be aware, the Pac-12 Conference is undergoing sudden and dramatic changes. Last year USC and UCLA announced plans to join the Big Ten. In recent days, Washington and Oregon also said they are headed to the Big Ten, and Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah are leaving for the Big 12. Other universities may be considering similar steps.
These changes — the latest in the ongoing realignment of the conferences around which intercollegiate athletics are organized — raise serious questions and challenges for Cal Athletics. Rather than watch from the sidelines, Athletic Director Jim Knowlton and I are working tirelessly with other critical partners to map out our next steps and evaluate options that will ensure our student-athletes can continue to thrive, and our program can continue to excel in a manner that reflects our values and budgetary realities. We will share information when we can. We prize the singular role Cal Athletics plays in providing students with world-class participatory and educational opportunities and in supporting the spirit and unity of our extended Cal Family.
We are also grateful for UC President Michael Drake’s support, who asked that I share this note with you: “I want to assure the Berkeley community that ever since the initial changes in the Pac-12’s membership, I have been working in close partnership with Chancellor Christ and A.D. Knowlton to ensure that Cal Athletics will continue to be an integral contributor to the university’s excellence. We know that time is of the essence, and while challenges remain, I am optimistic they will be surmounted.”
Berkeley is no stranger to making history. As our most fervent supporters, you are part of that legacy with your willingness, as our enduring march says, to “Fight for California.” I call upon you now to speak out on behalf of our athletes, show up to games, and support the programs that boost our students’ academic and athletic success. Together we can maintain our legacy of national and worldwide athletic renown.
Fiat Lux, and Go Bears!
One thing to note is the support of Michael Drake. Drake was the president of Ohio State from 2014 to 2020 and is a Stanford graduate, and did his residency at UCSF. It’s good to see that Drake is taking an active role in this, given his familiarity with high-level revenue athletics with the Buckeyes.
Christ has already announced her retirement. This will be her final year as chancellor before transitioning in 2024.
Here is athletic director Jim Knowlton’s thoughts on the situatioon Cal faces at this time in his latest email to Cal alumni:
I would like to begin this month’s newsletter by addressing the uncertainty around conference realignment. As I am sure you are aware, eight member institutions of the Pac-12 have announced they will be leaving the conference next summer. This happened very quickly, and we have been working tirelessly to map out the next step for Cal Athletics. I am grateful for the leadership of Chancellor Christ and UC President Michael Drake as we thoroughly examine all of the options for our future.
This is an extremely complex process, and while we are striving to find a solution as soon as we can, we are also being as thoughtful and thorough as possible to set the most optimal course for our program, our student-athletes, and our future.
Our current situation is certainly challenging. But I often reflect on the many other challenges we as a Cal community have faced over the last few years, and I am confident that we will continue to provide the exceptional experience we all expect for our student-athletes and community.
Some other interesting notes regarding fundraising, which has been going remarkably well to help offset lower-than-expected TV revenue.
Lastly, I want to thank everyone who gave to Cal Athletics last year. Together, your generosity will provide over $42 million in support of our student-athletes, ensuring they have the resources to excel both academically and athletically. The department remains committed to three bold goals - exceptional student-athlete experiences, team and individual competitive success, and attracting and retaining the best people to serve student-athletes - which have guided Cal Athletics’ priorities and empowered the department to make critical enhancements to the student-athlete experience. To date, Cal Athletics has received more than $330 million in gifts and commitments during the campuswide Light the Way Campaign and we are on track to meet our collective goal of $350 million in support of our student-athletes by December 31, 2023.
The Light The Way campaign began at the onset of COVID-19 to help offset pandemic losses and has helped become a boon to central campus. Those benefits appear to have spilled over into the athletic department as well. Hopefully a new conference.
Knowlton is facing a reported ongoing university investigation regarding his handling of the Teri McKeever scandal, which eventually led to the firing of the Cal women’s swimming coach.
Cal fans, how are you feeling right now?