The California Golden Bears athletic department is headed for a major pivot point. Chancellor Carol Christ came in promising major overhauls to ensure finances, and it sounds like she is approaching consensus with athletic director Jim Knowlton about what changes will be made come the near.
“I’m at the point in my career that I am, which is twice retired already, I feel a shortness and urgency of time,” Christ said. “One way that I manage is to set aggressive deadlines with my senior staff. I think that works well. We don’t always meet them, but you certainly don’t meet them if you don’t set them.”
She jokes that there have been more comprehensive reports on Cal athletics problems than Rose Bowl appearances, but she believes she sees a way forward. With cutting sports as a last resort, Christ said she is close to agreeing with athletic director Jim Knowlton on a budget and the size and scope of the department — with an expected announcement this spring.
There have already been early signs that Christ will be making big changes. Beach volleyball (a new sport) and softball got some big upgrades. Edwards Stadium has already been discussed for reevaluation. And by hiring Knowlton, Christ found a professional whose main goal will be to heavily focus on fundraising.
The piece goes on to talk more about how Christ is more involved than previous chancellors in being involved in athletic events, appearing at games, bringing academics all in order. All very promising signs. Christ has shown that she is more than capable in handling major issues.
However, expect some battles to be fought. One of Christ’s big initiatives is to bring Cal within Prong 1 of Title IX compliance. That will mean reducing men’s scholarships. It’s unclear which sports will come under fire, but if I had to guess, track and cross country might be the sports that see reductions.
Major changes are coming. We will see how Bear Territory reacts this spring.