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Cal reportedly ending athletic director search with selection of Michael Williams

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MAY 04, 2015

Update 5/4/15: This article has been updated to reflect a statement from the campus and further information from the San Francisco Chronicle.

The uncertainty surrounding Cal’s athletic director position seems to have finally come to an end as, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, Michael Williams — the interim athletic director — will be removing that “interim” tag from his title. There has been no official announcement yet, but according to the Chronicle, “a source close to the negotiations said a contract agreement has been reached in principle.”

Williams, a former Cal wrestler, has been acting as the interim athletic director since Chancellor Nicholas Dirks appointed him to the position in July 2014, after Sandy Barbour stepped down from the position in June. Williams is currently the vice chair of the UC Berkeley Foundation. As such, he took on a large role in the Chancellor’s Task Force on Academics and Athletics. An important development that came with the report was the call to raise academic standards for student-athletes accepted to UC Berkeley.

Williams, who was still the interim athletic director when the findings of the task force were first released, showed an inclination to make working on achieving the goals of the task force a priority, and this was likely significant in the chancellor’s reported decision to keep the UC Berkeley alumnus on the job.

“We knew this was a complex problem. The solution — that our campus and athletic department develop an infrastructure to consistently provide conditions in which all of our student-athletes can balance Berkeley’s academic rigors with Division I athletic competition — is one that, perhaps, can only be found at a place like Cal,” Williams told Cal Athletics when the task force’s report was first released.

With Williams’ likely appointment to the position, Cal Athletics can move on from this lengthy search and move its focus toward success on and off the field. Williams would come to the job with a background primarily in the financial world: He worked for many years at Barclays Global Investors before retiring in 2009 and, at one point, was directly responsible for looking over $1.1 trillion in assets.

While his likely job would largely focus on improving the academic outlook for Cal athletes, Williams would also be held responsible for ensuring there is improvement in the on-the-field product, especially in football and men’s basketball. He will be put in charge as both teams look to improve on lackluster campaigns this previous year.

The Chronicle’s reporting of Williams’ hire has not yet been confirmed or denied by either the prospective athletic director or the campus.

“If there’s news, it’s coming out of the chancellor’s office,” Williams told the Chronicle. “If I’m lucky enough to be that person, that’s great. I love serving Cal. I love serving this campus. I think we’ve done a lot of great things in the last 10 months. I’d be happy to keep doing what we’re doing and stay on this trajectory.”

Dan Mogulof, the campus spokesperson, released a statement addressing the imminent announcement.

“When the Chancellor launched the search for the next Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at UC Berkeley, he committed to selecting a candidate ‘by the middle of the spring,’ ” Mogulof wrote. “That time has arrived and the University is indeed very close to making an announcement. However, a few details remain and those involved are doing what is necessary to complete the hiring process. In the meantime, our Athletics program is and will remain in excellent hands.”

Hooman Yazdanian is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].

MAY 06, 2015

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