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Roundtable: What would you like to see in a new Athletic Director?

TwistNHook: So, we're going to be getting a new Athletic Director soon enough. I, for one, cannot wait to unwrap the present to find out who it is. While we wait, let's speculate idly, the CGB Way! What qualities are you looking for in a new AD?


Boomtho: I think my ideal next AD would build on Sandy's many strengths with a bit more polish (PR-wise) and less... questionable decision making. First, it's no requirement for me that the AD be a Cal alum. I do want the AD to have been an AD before at an academically minded institution with athletic success - basically, I wouldn't want us to poach an AD from Texas A&M, for example. I want our AD to continue Sandy's strong tradition of support of all sports, not just the revenue ones - I was always happy to see her posting pictures from swim meets, baseball games, etc. Last, I want our AD to be a bit more (visibly) active on the fundraising front.

Vincent S: Boomtho covered a lot of what I think, but on my end it's more important that the new AD "get" Cal, in its many eccentricities. I think that Dirks is looking to assert his influence a little bit here, and I think that he's looking for someone that he thinks can bring out the full potential of the athletic department, despite the many obstacles (political and otherwise) currently hindering Sandy's team from doing so. Finding someone who understands and excels at operating in Cal's environment will greatly ease that development.

Berkelium97: I agree with Vincent that an ideal candidate would help Cal Athletics realize its full potential. Cal's branding and marketing need a 21st century makeover. We've been running the same football commercial since 2006, the revenue sports' recaps on are incredibly dry and dull, and our outreach efforts struggle to connect with alumni, let alone casual, local fans. Arizona's Hard Edge video (Vincent S: see below) is something I'd like to see from Cal. It's a fun, lighthearted way to connect fans with the team during the offseason. We don't need to go as far as creating a Roboduck, but I'd like to see the AD make some efforts to draw more fans into the program. We're in one of the largest media markets in the US, which means we have plenty of competition among local baseball, football, and basketball teams, but it also means there is plenty of interest in attending sporting events. We have plenty of untapped potential. We're THE University of California. I'd like to see an AD who utilizes our position as the most prestigious public school in the US and a school positioned in a huge media market. <object width="425" height="350" class="mceItemFlash"> <param name="movie" value=""></param> <param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param> <embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="350"></embed> </object>

Hard Edge (via Arizona Wildcats)

Scott Chong: $, Beat Furd, World Domination

Leland Wong: Basically, we want someone with good leadership skills. Someone who can sweet talk donors into givings up free monies. Someone who can motivate and lead the coaches and all that jazz. One of the biggest blemishes on Barbour's resume was the catastrophic grad rates, so we'll need someone who pays close attention to our academics and can crack down on the coaches to make sure we don't let academics slip through the cracks. But do that without micro-managaing. But not being too hands-off. Did anyone say this was an easy job?

Avinash Kunnath: Fundraising. Cutting costs. Fundraising. Cutting costs. Fundraising. Cutting costs.

An athletic director's job is to increase revenues and minimize expenses, so the next one in charge has to be business-oriented. In terms of expenses, the next athletic director needs to start making ultimatums of all non-revenue programs to become self-sustaining as quickly as possible to ensure that the revenue from football, men's basketball, and the Pac-12 televison contract go toward future projects (like facilities upgrades for swimming, basketball, baseball, and more).

The new athletic director also has to be a people's person, and probably a younger face would be preferable. Sandy got things done, but she wasn't exactly gregarious, and outreach was never the strongest under her tenure. The new A.D. has to be someone who can engage younger audiences. They need to ensure that the new crop of fans that were built by the success Tedford and Montgomery engendered don't start wandering away from Cal when things go South. Get them involved and get them integrated back in the Cal experience in whatever way, whether it be through alumni groups or local events or anything that brings Golden Bears together.

John Wilton has been lending an assist internally with all his various wheeling and dealing this past year with Memorial Stadium field naming rights and bringing two renowned international soccer sides here, but in terms of sustainable growth, the new A.D. must be a face that knows how to get butts in the seats at games (both 1% and middle-class) while also ensuring continued donations.

Vlad Belo: What's the old adage in real estate? The three most important things are location, location, location. As we move forward, I think the three most important things in an AD are football, football, and football. We have a stadium to pay for and need to maximize our revenue for doing that.

Like it or not, revenue sports generally and football in particular are supremely important in an athletic department. Football is what brings tens of thousands of people to the campus on a football Saturday; football is what brings in TV revenue; football is, like it or not, the face of the athletics program. Yes, I realize that Cal has 30 intercollegiate sports and that we have a history of success in many (if not most) of those sports that we should be proud of. And as far as revenue sports go, we have a basketball program (men's and women's) that are competitive. But if we want our athletics programs to be healthy financially, football is the sport to drive that. Cal must be successful in football. And the new AD must know how to maximize the value that football has.

Ruey Yen: While I do think experience at a major Division I university that is also a great academic institution is very important requisite for the next Cal AD, I do sense that the landscape of the entire collegiate athletics is changing (the Northwestern player union for example). So instead of getting an experienced but old guy, we need someone who is young and dynamic to help fulfill Cal athletics to its full potential of becoming much higher profile regional team (like how people in LA identifies with UCLA despite no affiliation with ti) and winning more championships across the board.

Like everyone has pointed out already, it all starts with football. We need to have both on-field success as well as a respectable classroom performance from the players. My only worry is that with new AD trying to insert his/her will on the football team, we might hit that reset button a bit too fast and give up on any foundations that was laid in the Dykes regime. So maybe I would also like to see some patience out of the new AD.

atomsareenough: I'd like to see a new AD with a true vision regarding the Cal brand so that it can have meaning to a wider audience. I think that's what Berkelium is trying to get at, and I agree with him as far as that goes. I will say though, this is my reaction to Berkelium wanting a Cal version of the Hard Edge video:



A cooler, more Cal-relevant video might be fun, but Arizona's was just so corny and cheeseball and fake and easy to mock. Nothing like that, please.

In terms of financial management, I think Avi has it almost right, but to put a slightly finer point on it, it's not cutting costs and fundraising as their own ends per se, it's raising net revenues. Sometimes that's strategic investment, sometimes that's controlling expenditures. The main focus should be on expanding the reach of the Cal brand though. That's where the money is, and it requires thinking big, and of course having our revenue sports be successful.