The following letter was sent to Cal Athletics donors and football season-ticket holders Tuesday morning:
Dear Donors and Season Ticket Holders:
This morning I met with Coach Jeff Tedford as we continued conversations about the state of Cal football and how we can, collectively, as a football program, an athletics administration and a campus community, redirect both our competitive and academic performance. Throughout the course of the conversation, it became evident that there was not a clear, direct or expeditious path to reversing worrisome trends. Therefore, I informed Coach Tedford that I have decided the time has come to seek new leadership for the Cal football program. This decision was not made lightly, or easily, and comes only after careful consideration and complex evaluation of our football program. After weighing all of the variables and extensive consultation with Chancellor Birgeneau and Vice Chancellor Wilton it is evident that this level of change is what is needed and is in the best interest of Cal.
This should not be seen as a refutation of Coach Tedford's passion, commitment and skills. I believe he still has the same set of extraordinary personal and professional tools that allowed him to compile an unbelievable record of accomplishment during his 11 seasons at Cal - his near miraculous resurrection of a program in a state of collapse; two-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year; Pac-10 conference championship; eight bowl-game appearances; and more wins than any coach in Cal history. Additionally, I can't even begin to quantify what his patience and perseverance meant to our campus community as we endured repeated delays on the way to a new Memorial Stadium and modern training facilities. Jeff has earned a permanent place in the legacy of Cal football. However, as we have all seen sports, there comes a time when the needs of a team or a program no longer align with the tangible and intangible attributes of a particular head coach, no matter how talented and committed he may be.
Throughout this evaluation process, our focus has been on our student-athletes. We are all here to provide young people with what they need to fully realize their potential. Every professor, coach and staff member on this campus has a responsibility to provide them with what they require to excel, to learn and to grow. When Chancellor Birgeneau talks about comprehensive excellence as one of Berkeley's defining attributes, he means it....and we live by it. It is imperative that Cal football be recognized as a leader in academic accomplishment, competitive success and community engagement.
As hard as it has been to watch our student-athletes struggle on the field, the team's continuing decline in academic performance is of great concern. As recent NCAA data show, Cal football is now last in the Pac-12 in terms of the team's graduation rate: 48% compared to Stanford's conference-leading 90%. In fact, the other metric used by the NCAA to measure academic performance, the Academic Progress Rate (APR), is, in some ways even more sobering. The football team's APR performance has now declined to the point where we are dangerously close to being disqualified from postseason play in the future.
I understand that cynics may conclude that this decision was driven solely by financial issues, and while revenue implications are one consideration, I'm here to say nothing can be further from the truth. I take very seriously the responsibility of providing our student-athletes with nothing but the finest of resources, and my experience as a coach and leader in intercollegiate athletics teaches me that if you establish and sustain the conditions student-athletes need to succeed, it creates a foundation from which all success can follow....academic success, wins, postseason play and ticket sales.
I realize that this decision will be met with varying levels of support, but I know we can all agree that Cal is parting ways with a very good man who has done remarkable things for our campus, our intercollegiate program and our team. However, my responsibilities to our students and the university as a whole has forced me to evaluate whether or not the team's current leadership is in a position to make the changes necessary to turn things around. At the end of the day, I'm confident that this is the best decision for Cal and our student-athletes.
Jeff Tedford has served this university admirably and I will forever be indebted for his commitment, expertise and unflagging effort. I know the entire Cal community will join me in thanking Jeff for changing the face of Cal football.
My staff and I are now turning our attention to the future as we begin to explore and assess possible candidates for the position of head football coach. As that effort begins, we will seek ideas and input from many areas. As a first step, we are convening an advisory group of key stakeholders who we will turn to for guidance in terms of the professional profile, experience and personal attributes we should be looking for in potential candidates.
I know we are all proud of Cal's intercollegiate athletics program that together we have built and sustained. I will continue to honor that support with an undiminished commitment to, and passion for, the pursuit of even greater achievements in the future.
Director of Athletics
"I want to thank the University of California for the opportunity to be a part of this great university and community. I am so grateful to all of the coaches, players and support staff for playing such a vital role in making Cal Football relevant while enjoying winning seasons nine of 11 years. All involved can feel a great sense of pride with their sacrifice, contributions and commitment that have made it possible to have the winningest tenure in Cal Football history. We all can be very proud of helping to build a renovated Memorial Stadium that will have a positive impact on many athletes, fans and staff members for years to come. I will never forget the most gratifying part of these last 11 years, and that has been the relationships with the players I have had the special opportunity to watch grow academically, physically, socially and spiritually. To watch this process and be a part of their growth and development has been a blessing. The Tedford family is blessed to have built so many great relationships and create memories that will last a lifetime. I am most proud that through the sacrifices we have made over the last 11 years, my wife and two sons are the foundation and joy of my life. We wish the university much success - Go Bears!"
Due in large part to the achievements of the football program under Tedford, Cal was able to renovate historic Memorial Stadium, moving into the facility this season, and the Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance, which contains offices, locker rooms and training facilities for football and 12 other sports, opened in the fall of 2011.
However, after much early success under Tedford, the on-field and academic results have fallen in recent years. After going 59-30 through his first seven seasons in Berkeley - all with winning records - Tedford has a mark of 23-27 over the past four years, and the Bears did not qualify for a bowl game in 2010 or '12. Cal finished 3-9 with a record of 2-7 in the Pac-12 North Division this season. In addition, after a period of sustained team academic improvement, Cal's latest NCAA Graduation Success Rate dropped to a low of 48 percent in the most recent figures released last month and the team's Academic Progress Rate has trended down from a high of 970 in 2008 to 936 in 2011.
Tedford was named Cal's head coach on Dec. 12, 2001, joining the Bears after serving as offensive coordinator at Oregon from 1998-2001. He was offensive coordinator at Fresno State from 1993-97 after being the Bulldogs' quarterbacks coach in 1992. Tedford's coaching career began with two seasons as volunteer assistant at Fresno State (1987-88) before he joined Calgary of the CFL for three seasons (1989-91). As a player, he was an honorable mention All-American quarterback at Fresno State, graduating in 1983.
Barbour said that a national search for a new head coach, which will be aided by the firm of DHR International, will begin immediately. She did not indicate a timetable for hiring a replacement, adding that Cal Athletics will have no further comment on the search until a new coach has been selected.
What do people think about these statements? There is a press conference set for 3 PM. We'll have a fresh post then to follow what they say. Thanks!