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Cal and UCLA coaches must achieve academic benchmarks to receive bonuses

Sink or swim is now for coaches too!

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

The University of California is becoming more aggressive in their academic stance on admitting athletes. Now they're turning their attention to the coaches and ensuring they holding up their end of the bargain. Nanette Asimov of the San Francisco Chronicle has more.

Newly hired coaches and athletic directors at the University of California will lose lucrative bonuses — potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars — if student athletes fail in the classroom, under a new policy beginning Thursday. The change marks the first time UC coaches and others who make money from students’ athletic performance have financial incentives to ensure that academic performance is also up to par.

The policy approved by UC President Janet Napolitano applies to new and renewed contracts for coaches and athletic directors across UC’s nine undergraduate campuses. Each campus will be required to “establish a minimum level of academic performance that teams must maintain in order for coaches (and athletic directors) to be eligible to receive any — academic or athletic — performance incentive awards.”

While there will be obvious long-term coaching and recruiting implications, I'm fine with most of this. Although I imagine there will be ways around this--like paying a higher base salary and lowering bonus incentives to new coaching candidates--it is important for coaches to be held accountable for the academic record of their players. Poor academic screening the last half-decade of the Tedford years (along with terrible administrative support) led to the poor APR scores and the exhausting national headlines of Cal's bad academic record, and Tedford's dismissal.

So I am fine with most of this. But I have some disclaimers.


  • The university provides appropriate and perhaps excessive academic resources to counsel and mentor student-athletes.
  • There is enough funding for the recruiting budget that will allow Cal to scour the country for the best student-athletes that are a good fit for the Golden Bears.
  • We still have the budget to hire good coaches, good assistants and remain competitive with the rest of the conference. Cal is stagnating in the amount we pay our coaches, and if this continues we could soon find ourselves near the bottom of FBS coaching pay in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country.
  • There is a movement at other programs around the country to ensure other coaches at other schools are rewarded for good academic performance and punished for the opposite. Cal is already probably becoming one of the hardest places to recruit because of the academic issues. This will not make it easier.

...then I will be totally fine with it.

Right now, I have reservations. Because the list of public schools that have succeeded with strong academic standards in the modern era are... Wisconsin? Michigan a decade ago? Texas (ehhhh)? It's rough waters ahead.

What does everyone think about this?