In mid-August 2017, Mike Williams—athletic director of the California Golden Bears—announced that he would step down from the position at the end of his contract in May 2018. After a lengthy search with executive search firm Witt/Kieffer, Rusty Simmons of SF Gate is reporting that Cal has picked the next athletic director for the school.
Cal is expected to name Jim Knowlton as its new athletic director Monday amid a series of pressing challenges with the department’s deficit-ridden budget and the lofty goal of moving from Prong 3 to Prong 1 of Title IX.
Knowlton has been the athletic director at Air Force for the past three years, a time during which the Falcons won more conference titles than during any other similar span in program history. Knowlton also helped boost attendance at football games and spearheaded efforts to raise about $22 million in donations used to renovate athletic facilities.
This will not be an easy job as Knowlton and Chancellor Carol Christ are at a major turning point for the program. Cal “must balance its budget by 2020” and may be restructuring the sports program to cut costs and meet Title IX requirements.
Jon Wilner sees the hire as having positive potential, but uncertainty nonetheless.
Knowlton has experience with bureaucracy — the UC vs. the federal government? that’s a toss-up — and, as a sitting athletic director, he satisfies a crucial criteria for the Bears.
But his lack of experience at a large public institution and limited experience running a major college department (three years) doesn’t immediately appear to correlate to the demands he’ll face at Cal.
Cal is expected to announce the hire and introduce Knowlton at a press conference at 12:30 p.m. todsy.