This isn’t any kind of joke. After almost a year of talking to Cal Alumni friends, and most recently a deep conversation with one close to the program just two days ago, I decided to launch this blog post because I feel, as I’ve said before, that if anyone had Sandy Barbour’s job during the tragic Economic Crisis of 2008, and the subsequent dramatic loss of revenue since then, they too would have had to make the triage program cutting decisions Ms. Barbour was faced with in 2010 and 2011.
Moreover, she was not alone in those choices; she worked with Cal Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, and since he’s stepping down at the end of the year, the possibility that a new chancellor may want his or her own person to be the new AD is very real. That’s why this is the time to save Sandy.
Look, I know the complaints about Sandy. The latest one I’ve been bombed with is that the new California Memorial Stadium set to open September 1st will have, as one alum put it, “The same old port-o-potties on the east end of the stadium, when the west end, where the rich alums are, get all the new stuff. So we’re paying for all of the rich alums to enjoy the stadium.” That Cal alum couple, and long time fans and friends to me, didn’t buy season tickets this year.
Another round of complaints has to do with the cuts of the programs, but again I say, that was inevitable. The main problem isn’t Sandy, or Robert, it’s the very spending priorities of the State of California itself – that’s where the anger of Cal Alumns should be directed.
But rather than frown, Cal Alumns should smile when Sandy’s name is mentioned. How many times have we cried about some decision a certain Cal Football Coach named Holmoe made, and wished for better days? How many smiles has Cal Football Coach Jeff Tedford, hired by Sandy Barbour, given us?
Or consider the overall growth of Cal Athletics under Sandy Barbour: 15 national team championships, 67 individual titles: the first Pac-10 conference title in 50 seasons for men’s basketball in 2009–10, plus the four-game bowl win streak for the football team between 2005 to 2008. And students in over half of the programs maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better.
Moreover, consider Cal’s recent success in the NFL Draft, with Cal Football stars going in the first and / or second round each of the last five years of the Cal Football program. I know some of you are pointing to Stanford’s 2012 NFL Draft success, but that should not be a reason to frown, but a reason to work – harder.
But my reasons for saving Sandy Barbour don’t stop at records and achievements: Sandy stands as an important role model for young women in sports, and in business. Moreover, as one of only five women ADs, Sandy’s a rare commodity. Beyond even that, Sandy has been here since 2004, and dealt with not just budget cuts, but tree-sitters and student-athletes with many different issues, and yet, through it all, manages to maintain a smile and a level head.
For those who want a new Cal AD, I say this: you can’t find anyone like Sandy Barbour. Why try? Stop whining, or Sandy may wind up running the Stanford Athletics program.
Stay tuned, and GO BEARS!