Sandy Barbour, who has served as director of athletics at UC Berkeley since the fall of 2004 and guided the department through one of the most successful periods in its long history, will leave her position to accept a new role on campus, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced Friday, June 27.
“I believe that intercollegiate athletics in general, and the Cal program in particular, stand at a crossroads…”
Barbour’s tenure in office will conclude on July 15, when she will transition to Berkeley’s Extension Program to develop an academic program in sports management. Michael Williams ’82, a former Golden Bear student-athlete and current vice chair of the UC Berkeley Foundation, will oversee Cal Athletics on an interim basis until a national search is completed for the next Director of Athletics.
“I have the utmost respect for Sandy’s extraordinary commitment to our university, our intercollegiate program and our student athletes,” Dirks said. “More than anything else, we have been the beneficiaries of Sandy’s integrity, optimism, relentless energy and dedication to everyone involved with the Cal athletics program.”
“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.”
“We aspire to greatness not only on the field, but also in the classroom and in the community.”
Overseeing an intercollegiate athletics department that supports 850 student-athletes and 30 different programs, Barbour has enjoyed a tenure marked by championships, innovation, facility modernization and revenue growth. Among the many accomplishments during her 10 years at Cal are:
- 19 national team championships;
- A combined 92 national championships in individual events, relays, crew races and tennis doubles;
- A Pac-10 co-championship in football in 2006 (Cal’s first since 1975); a Pac-10 men’s basketball title in 2009-10 (Cal’s first in 50 years); a first-ever Final Four appearance in women’s basketball in 2013; and two trips to the NCAA national semifinals in volleyball;
- A combined 40 medals earned by the Golden Bears at the 2008 Games in Beijing and the 2012 Games in London, including record totals of 23 medals and 15 gold medals in London;
- More than $315 million raised in gifts and pledges toward scholarships, operations and facilities.
Under Barbour’s direction, Cal Athletics has consistently ranked among the elite programs in the country, particularly when measured by the Directors’ Cup. Cal has placed among the nation’s top 10 six times since 2004-05, including a high of third in 2010-11, after having reached the top 10 just twice previously.
In addition, through Barbour’s leadership in planning and fundraising, two major facilities opened recently — the Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance in 2011 and a renovated and modernized California Memorial Stadium in 2012.
Barbour has served on the NCAA Division I Leadership Council since 2010 and has held positions on numerous Pac-12 and NCAA committees. Named the 2006 National Administrator of the Year by the National Association of College Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA) Division I-A, she was also selected the Regional Athletic Director of the Year and was a finalist for National AD of the Year honors at the Sports Business Awards in 2009.
Barbour withstood a difficult climate during much of her tenure, including delays to the Memorial Stadium and Simpson Center projects caused by protests and legal challenges, and a severe economic recession that presented financial challenges for the campus and the intercollegiate program.
More recently, the campus and Cal Athletics have, together, been working to address deficiencies in the academic performance of a few teams, even as the overall performance of Berkeley’s student-athletes continues to be excellent in this regard.
“Sandy provided exemplary leadership during all this time, taking responsibility when necessary and working tirelessly to improve our program in every dimension,” Dirks said. “During my first year at Cal, I have deeply appreciated Sandy’s wisdom, experience and passionate commitment, and I will continue to benefit from her perspective and advice.”
Barbour’s nearly 10-year term as director of athletics is the longest tenure for the department since men’s and women’s athletics merged into a single entity in 1992.
Dirks said that after several discussions with Barbour, they reached the conclusion that this summer would be an opportune time for Barbour to pursue a long-standing professional interest, allowing the university to seek new leadership in Intercollegiate Athletics.
“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, who will take over as interim athletic director, was a collegiate wrestler at Cal and graduated in 1982 with a degree in economics. He later completed requirements for his MBA at UCLA before embarking on a career in finance.
“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.”
Williams retired in 2009 as vice chair, Capital Markets, for Barclays Global Investors after more than 16 years at the company. He currently serves as vice chair of the UC Berkeley Foundation and is the immediate past chair of the foundation’s Campaign Steering Committee.
Williams was elected to the UC Berkeley Foundation Board of Trustees in 2007 and joined the Foundation’s Executive Committee in 2009. He is also on the advisory boards of the UC Berkeley Division of Equity and Inclusion, the Haas Socially Responsible Investment Fund, Bronze Investments and several nonprofit boards, including the California Heritage Fund.
Additionally, Williams is a member of the Chancellor’s Task Force on Academics and Athletics, which will issue a report later this summer on campus policies and practices; the role of coaches, administrators and faculty; and issues related to academic expectations and the student-athlete experience on the Berkeley campus.
“We are extremely grateful to Michael Williams for agreeing to serve as the interim director until we complete a national search for our next Director of Athletics,” Dirks said. “Mike has deep experience with the management and financial operations of complex organizations, and an equally deep level of knowledge about and engagement with our university. I want Mike to help us assess the current goals, challenges and opportunities for our intercollegiate athletics program — something he can do unencumbered by the past and without having to worry about securing a role in the program’s future. Beyond that, he will be uniquely situated to support the evaluation of the task force’s findings, and develop strategies for implementation of its recommendations — subjects that will be revealed once the report is released.”