Witt/Kieffer refunds $110K to University of North Carolina system

For the second year in a row, Cal Athletics will receive a $20 million bailout from the chancellor’s office to close its deficit, raising questions about the long-term sustainability of the department.
Ana Isabel Diaz/File
For the second year in a row, Cal Athletics will receive a $20 million bailout from the chancellor’s office to close its deficit, raising questions about the long-term sustainability of the department.

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Witt/Kieffer, the executive search firm that Cal hired to help find the program’s next athletic director, has returned $110,000 to the University of North Carolina system, or UNC, as first reported by Business North Carolina.

This refund comes after UNC System officials criticized Witt/Kieffer’s work over disputed past salary data.

UNC’s Board of Governors was notified of the Witt/Kieffer transaction in a letter sent Feb. 28 by UNC System President Margaret Spellings.

“Based on conversations with this Board, there was clear agreement that WK’s performance on this search did not meet our expectations in terms of communications with the search consultant — having nothing to do at all with ECU’s Chancellor or the other candidates in the search,” Spelling wrote in a letter to the Board of Governors.

Spelling also noted in the letter that UNC has barred Witt/Kieffer from further work with UNC schools, but existing agreements will continue.

Despite Witt/Kieffer’s situation with UNC, UC Berkeley has “complete confidence” in the firm, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.

“The applicant pool they helped to assemble for the (athletic director) position is deep, diverse and highly qualified,” Mogulof said in an email. “In addition, the campus, as per California law, does not collect salary information from job candidates.”

Mike Williams, Cal’s current athletic director, announced his intent to step down in August 2017 and will step down in May 2018. Cal retained Witt/Kieffer’s services in January to aid in the search for the new athletic director.

Earlier this year, Witt/Kieffer assisted Yale’s search committee in the hiring of Vicky Chun, the first woman to hold the athletic director position in the school’s history.

Columbia University, Bucknell University and West Chester University are also among the programs that have retained Witt/Kieffer’s services.

Justice delos Santos is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jdelossantos510