Sandy Barbour Interview

Athletic Director Sandy Barbour offered some comments on key topics in an interview Tuesday, August 22nd, topics like Pac-10 TV coverage, seating at Stanford Stadium, Pac-10 Bowl games, keeping Joanne Boyle, the academic acheivements of Cal's student-athletes, and how she assesses the success of athletic programs at Cal.

Readers at our web site have complained about the TV contracts negotiated by the Pac-10 and have expressed some interest in TV networks being formed by other conferences. Are you on the Pac-10 television committee? And if so, what are the hot-button issues now?

Yes, the Big-10 has their own TV network. And yes I am on the Pac-10 television committee.

We just signed a new deal with Fox this past year, I believe it was a seven-year deal, and I was a part of the team that helped negotiate the deal.

At the time, we had already negotiated an ABC/ESPN deal as our primary national carrier, so the best news in this area is that we have added a lot of ESPN exposure. Certainly from a brand standpoint, when you talk about college sports, ESPN is the name you just have to have - and we were able to accomplish that through their affiliation with ABC - at some peril to the value of our Fox contract, I must add.

Fox tried to maintain that they were our cable carrier and that ABC/ESPN was our network carrier - and we were now mixing the two (and they weren't happy about it).

The biggest issue I see with the advent of the ESPN, frankly, is that given the stature of our conference in football there may be nothing left over to go to our institutional package (Comcast/ISP), and that will cost us some money.

Last year that was the whole issue of the Washington State game - (people ask) how could that gave not be on TV?

Well frankly it wasn't attractive enough to our television partners for one of them to pick it up in one of the few slots that were available that weekend. At least we ended up with Sling Box thing that was kind of cool.

Re television coverage, we also do have time zone issues, no doubt about it. Conferences like the ACC, the Big-10, and the Big East have got literally the entire day to play through maybe three or four television windows - whereas we really only have two - maybe three if we really push it.

Do you think the time zone issue was a factor in the ESPN Game Day decision to go to Virginia Tech?

No that was not it. It was strictly a decision based on the emotion and respect to take it to Virginia Tech.

So that's football (re television). I think the advent of our ability to get games on ESPN is huge, absolutely huge. Great great progress there.

Television for basketball is a bit of a different issue. I think we're making some progress there, but the problem with ESPN and basketball is the timing issue. All of your weekday inventory is played at night, and ESPN is just not as interested in that.

However we are making some strides with ESPN. You know the whole broadcast industry is changing in leaps and bounds. What I think it all boils down to is having some games affiliated with the ESPN brand is huge so that's what we've got to work towards - while also recognizing that ESPN, for men's basketball, ESPN is never going to be our answer for men's basketball as our primary carrier because they are national - so we have to go to a fox Sports Net or a Comcast, one that is more regional

So you're always going to have to rely primarily on your local carrier. I know some people diss Fox Sports, but I think in many respects they're pretty darn good - while also saying that they need to get better with some talent issues and a few other things.

One last comment re the Big 10 television network: Ultimately that's the way to go because then can you control your own content. Still, for those who are clamoring for ESPN, or to get away from Fox Sports Net, a Pac-10 network would in fact be regional, so we would be having some of the same issues that we have now.

I would love for us to have a Pac-10 network as our third tier broadcaster. First choice would be ESPN, Fox Sports Net the next, and the third choice would be the Pac-10 network. Everything that is not televised on the major networks would be carried on the Pac-10 network, and announcers and analysts would be selected by the network, and not only would you have a place to put your football content that's not on one of major networks, you could also broadcast baseball, soccer, the Pac-10 packed track meet ... all of that for us to sports junkies who could stay up all hours of the day and night watching.

But for people who have actually watched it, the Big-10 network is having all kinds of problems with getting cable networks to carry them in the basic tier and not as premium content

The Pac-10 has put the men's and women's basketball tournaments together at a time when the NCAA has been working hard to create more of an identity for the women's tournament. Is this an experiment or is it a long-term commitment?

Starting in 2009, yes. I certainly think that ultimately it's something that bears close watching because the last thing I think we want to do is anything that would blow the identity of or the progress being made by some of our women's programs. However, I hesitate to call it an experiment because we have voted to go there for at (I think) three years - I'd have to check that. So starting in 2009 it will be matched with the Pac-10 men's tournament in LA.

Is there any chance of rotating the location of the tournament?

The problem is that the Pac-10 men's tournament is owned by Fox Sports Properties. Just like we sold our marketing rights to ISP, the conference has sold the rights to the tournament to Fox. And Fox was part owner I think, at one point, of the Staples Center- and many of their business partners, their corporate sponsors, are there in LA - so they are motivated to keep it in LA.

We've banged on them pretty hard about putting out an RFP and to look at proposals from other places, because there is no doubt the membership wants it rotated. But frankly, I don't think were going to see it anytime soon.

Keeping Joanne Boyle was a big success - congratulations. When you heard about the Duke offer, what did you do? How did you make this work?

Well, as you know Joanne has had great success here in her first two years, and I'm certainly very proud of what they've done - and that they've done it the right way.

I knew what some of the jobs were that that might be open this spring, and I initiated conversations with Joanne pretty early, nothing heavy, just saying that obviously given the success we have had, we will want to take a look at enhancing her contract and extending it, just kind of laying it out there so that she knew it wasn't like any mystery,

The sequence actually was that Florida came after her first, and made her a very attractive offer from a compensation standpoint, so we negotiated essentially a new contract at that point, and put that to bed. And then Duke came around.

Actually Joanne and I had talked about that possibility during the course of the Florida discussions and Joanne had made it very clear that she was really happy here. There were certain things she wanted to see for her program, of course, just like there are some things I want to see for my department, but she made it clear she was really happy here- and that if the Duke situation did arise, that it would be a no-brainer.

So that certainly gave me some comfort, and I think in the end Joanne is a person of great principle who marches to her own beat, and in the end what I think it ultimately came down to is that she's really excited about what she is building here. She's committed to that, and for her to be able to build this program with her own mark on it, to her that made the difference.

Her commitment to Cal has made a lot of difference to other people as well, thinking both of the new players coming into the program and the new coach (Charmin Smith) that Joanne just hired.

It speaks to those kids about commitment and I think of that as a huge thing for Joanne too - I think she wanted to finish what she has started.

I want to ask about how you decide whether a program is in good shape, moving forward, and worth continuing with its present staff. I won't ask you for current evaluations of specific programs, but - what are the kinds of things you look at? How do you go about evaluating a program? Is it success on the court or field? Or graduation rates?

That's a great question - let me start with this: In the course of my three years here I've come up with this idea I call "athletics done right." And it's really four things: athletic achievement, academic engagement, community representation, and being good stewards of our fiscal resources.

(The first thought is that) it's not acceptable to three of those four, or two of them, it has to be all four. Berkeley is a place that deserves to have it all. This is a place that doesn't compromise; this is a place that doesn't do "win at all costs".

So the way I set about evaluating a program is, how are we doing in those four areas? Are we competing at a high level? Are we going to post season play?

Of course, each sport is a little different so there are different nuances, but - are our student athletes having the opportunity to compete at a really high level?

I have a stated goal of competing for a national championship in everyone of our sports. But again that means different things in different sports, being in the hunt. I don't really expect a program to win a national championship year in and year out, even rugby. It's great what they do, but do you know how hard it is to win a national championship?

What we can really ask of them is to be in the hunt. And this one (of the four) is really important because this campus is about excellence, and our responsibility is to show that on the competitive battlefield. Others show it in the labs, or in public service, or whatever; our benchmark of excellence is to win.

The second area is academics. And that's GPA, graduation rates, and student athletes who are going to classes, who are engaged in the educational opportunity that they have here. We've had a couple of programs that have not had very good graduation rates.

Football has rectified its performance in this area - even though it is going to take some time for it to show up in the published rates. We know the raw data, we know what's happening there.

Men's basketball is a totally different issue, and as I have said, "zero is zero." I don't care how it happens, zero is zero. Okay, if you have one kid in a class in a particular year who doesn't graduate because he transferred or because he went to the NBA - you know what? We can certainly understand that.

But for a four year rolling average to have a zero, that's a problem. That's a problem we need to address. And it's one that I think to Ben's credit (Head Coach Ben Braun) he has addressed very well. For this next year our APR for men's basketball will be 1000, and that will eventually lead to the graduation rates that we want.

The "community representation" area is about bringing in young men and women who make good decisions at two o'clock in the morning. It's about young men and women of character and integrity who represent this institution well. And the category has to include staff members too, and coaches and administrators who all have to represent the university well.

You know I talk every year to the football team, because Jeff Tedford asked me to, about, guys, don't give me this woe-is-me stuff because, like Steve Levy, you got blasted all over the media for throwing a pint glass at a bouncer. What I say to Steve is that if I did the same thing, the same thing would happen to me. If I go to the grocery store and I decide to get grouchy with a clerk, they would be saying, "Did you hear what the Cal A.D. did?" Coach Tedford, same thing. We bear the same cost.

It's the cost of being a public person.

Absolutely.

The last of the four areas is being good stewards of our fiscal resources.

We are highly dependent upon philanthropy, we are highly dependent upon people buying tickets, and we need to show people that we are being good stewards of those resources. The university provides us with a subsidy, and we have to show the university that we are using those resources wisely.

I will say frankly I think the institution should be providing a subsidy to college athletics because that says it's a priority for the university, that intercollegiate athletics is important. Of course then if we don't need it and if we returned it to the campus every year, then God bless us.

What are you most proud of?

What I am most proud of are the strides we have made in doing all four of these goals, in "doing athletics right."

You know, I think that has always been here in varying different degrees, but the improvements on the academic side have been substantial.

What I am proud of is that I believe, from feedback getting, two things: First - the student athletes, across the board, whether you play football, or field hockey, or run track, or play water polo, believe that what they are doing is important for this university. And I believe that our administration has established those values through our operating principles, through our budgeting practices, where we as administrators spend our time, because it is. Each and every one of our 900 student-athletes, their experience in their four or five year window here, is important to me.

And then the second thing that I am proud of is that we as an athletic department are providing something for this university to be really proud of. And again, it kind of goes back to these core principles. Of course the winning is great, and I think that you all would be very excited about that, but you'd be a little less enthused about it if we were doing it with a 40% graduation rate, or if we were doing it with young men and women who were constantly in and out of trouble, because this is Berkeley.

And frankly, that's why I am here. It's because I knew this was a place that had those values. I tell our students all the time, and I give them all the credit, you know, I was told by numerous people, "Don't take the Cal job, Sandy, Cal is schizophrenic about success", and guess what, we're turning that around.

We're turning that around because our student-athletes are not giving the faculty or the community reasons to be negative about athletics. Our kids are going to class. Our kids are engaging in the classroom environment. They are graduating. They're doing really well on the field and on the court. Of course given that we are dealing with 17 to 22 year olds, there will be hiccups occasionally, but on the whole our kids represent this campus and this community very very well.

And finally, we are doing much better financially. Do we still have a university subsidy? Yes we do, but we have cut it by 25% in my three years. The Cal community deserves a lot of credit for that as well - Bear Backers are stepping up in record numbers to help us take that issue off the table.

When you first arrived at Berkeley and got a detailed look at all the issues surrounding athletics, what surprised you the most?

The pleasant surprise was that there was so much here. So much talent, so much coaching talent, so much administrative talent. I knew there was a lot of it here, but there was far more than I ever imagined. And that's helped us do what we've done in the last three years.

I think the surprise, the negative surprise, is that all of the jokes about Cal's bureaucracy and the decision-making, were true. I never imagined that it could be as dense as described. So yeah, that was a bad surprise. But the good news addendum to this is that with Chancellor Bergeneau's support we are changing all that. That, of course, and the baseball bat I carry around with me.

And how about the city of Berkeley? The town and gown conflict?

To be honest I've been in in several situations where town and gown relationships were not good, and some of those were struggles, so I don't know if that was a complete surprise. But disappointed? Yes.

I am completely disappointed that the city of Berkeley has chosen to pick a fight over this because I don't believe even one iota that their suit is about the Student Athlete High Performance Center, or even about the Memorial Stadium renovation. I believe it all goes back to the bigger town vs. gown issues. And as the defender of 27 programs and 900 student athletes I am really angry that the safety and conditions for success for these 900 student athletes that I care so much about is caught up in this. It's just not fair to them. It's not fair.

Pac-10 bowl games tend to be on the West Coast, for example in Hawaii or the at the Holiday Bowl. Is that because of a perception the fact West Coast fans don't travel well?

Yes, definitely. And we've got to figure out a way to break out of that. We've got to figure out a way for the Pac-10 to be attractive to the Cotton Bowl for one of their teams. USC is now going on year five of being one of the dominant programs in the country - and our resurgence helps; maybe UCLA is back, maybe not; then there's Oregon. You know, as we build and sustain consistent success as a conference I think we'll be able to do it.

Do you have statistics on actual West Coast fan travel?

Answer: Yes to some extent we do, but partly this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because we've never really been given the opportunity. Fiesta Bowl? Yes, okay, but that's actually Pac-10 territory. Remember USC to the Orange Bowl a couple of years ago? (Fan travel was) not all that good. And even to a BCS bowl, so the data is mixed.

How about Cal fan attendance at the Tennessee game last year? Did that provide any useful evidence?

Oh absolutely. And I pointed to that, and I point to the Vegas Bowl, not location-wise, but Cal was an 8-4 team in what ended up to be a kind of up and down season - and we could have sold 25,000 tickets to that bowl game but BYU (our opponent) had two weeks advance notice on us so our ticket allotment was less.

But this issue is really really important. When it comes down to picking Cal for a BCS at-large game, part of the selection criteria is going to be how many fans will Cal bring to a Fiesta Bowl or to a Rose Bowl (of course we know the answer to that one). But how many to Orange, or Sugar?

I've got to have evidence, I've got to have hard evidence to be able to say what we would bring so we're building that (evidence). And certainly the Tennessee game in terms of geography, when we go to Minnesota, when we go to Michigan State, when we go to Maryland, all of those will be indicators.

Many Cal fans are disappointed by the small allotment of tickets to the new stadium at Stanford, and the problem won't be going away. Has anybody put on the table the idea of having a neutral site where all interested fans could attend?

Yes, it has been discussed by Stanford and Cal, and in the end, if I remember correctly, Stanford did not want to give up their home game.

What had been proposed was one year at Stanford, one year at Cal, then one year at a neutral site.

In the end, despite the seating issue, we kind of both came to the conclusion that using a neutral site would water down the game experience and the rivalry.

I think Stanford may eventually decide that they need have a way to add bleacher seats to be able to accommodate fans for both our game and for the Notre Dame game.

I don't know where they are in season ticket sales right now, so depending on how their season goes it may or may not be an issue in terms of Cal fans being able to get tickets at game time.

So - it's unfortunate - and I certainly wish it could have remained the way it was.

The one positive is that we won't have to move Cal season-ticket holders for the Big Game this year because we will just give Stanford their 10,000 tickets in a little corner over there and be done with it.


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Readers at our web site have complained about the TV contracts negotiated by the Pac-10 and have expressed some interest in TV networks being formed by other conferences. Are you on the Pac-10 television committee? And if so, what are the hot-button issues now?

Yes, the Big-10 has their own TV network. And yes I am on the Pac-10 television committee.

We just signed a new deal with Fox this past year, I believe it was a seven-year deal, and I was a part of the team that helped negotiate the deal.

At the time, we had already negotiated an ABC/ESPN deal as our primary national carrier, so the best news in this area is that we have added a lot of ESPN exposure. Certainly from a brand standpoint, when you talk about college sports, ESPN is the name you just have to have - and we were able to accomplish that through their affiliation with ABC - at some peril to the value of our Fox contract, I must add.

Fox tried to maintain that they were our cable carrier and that ABC/ESPN was our network carrier - and we were now mixing the two (and they weren't happy about it).

The biggest issue I see with the advent of the ESPN, frankly, is that given the stature of our conference in football there may be nothing left over to go to our institutional package (Comcast/ISP), and that will cost us some money.

Last year that was the whole issue of the Washington State game - (people ask) how could that gave not be on TV?

Well frankly it wasn't attractive enough to our television partners for one of them to pick it up in one of the few slots that were available that weekend. At least we ended up with Sling Box thing that was kind of cool.

Re television coverage, we also do have time zone issues, no doubt about it. Conferences like the ACC, the Big-10, and the Big East have got literally the entire day to play through maybe three or four television windows - whereas we really only have two - maybe three if we really push it.

Do you think the time zone issue was a factor in the ESPN Game Day decision to go to Virginia Tech?

No that was not it. It was strictly a decision based on the emotion and respect to take it to Virginia Tech.

So that's football (re television). I think the advent of our ability to get games on ESPN is huge, absolutely huge. Great great progress there.

Television for basketball is a bit of a different issue. I think we're making some progress there, but the problem with ESPN and basketball is the timing issue. All of your weekday inventory is played at night, and ESPN is just not as interested in that.

However we are making some strides with ESPN. You know the whole broadcast industry is changing in leaps and bounds. What I think it all boils down to is having some games affiliated with the ESPN brand is huge so that's what we've got to work towards - while also recognizing that ESPN, for men's basketball, ESPN is never going to be our answer for men's basketball as our primary carrier because they are national - so we have to go to a fox Sports Net or a Comcast, one that is more regional

So you're always going to have to rely primarily on your local carrier. I know some people diss Fox Sports, but I think in many respects they're pretty darn good - while also saying that they need to get better with some talent issues and a few other things.

One last comment re the Big 10 television network: Ultimately that's the way to go because then can you control your own content. Still, for those who are clamoring for ESPN, or to get away from Fox Sports Net, a Pac-10 network would in fact be regional, so we would be having some of the same issues that we have now.

I would love for us to have a Pac-10 network as our third tier broadcaster. First choice would be ESPN, Fox Sports Net the next, and the third choice would be the Pac-10 network. Everything that is not televised on the major networks would be carried on the Pac-10 network, and announcers and analysts would be selected by the network, and not only would you have a place to put your football content that's not on one of major networks, you could also broadcast baseball, soccer, the Pac-10 packed track meet ... all of that for us to sports junkies who could stay up all hours of the day and night watching.

But for people who have actually watched it, the Big-10 network is having all kinds of problems with getting cable networks to carry them in the basic tier and not as premium content

The Pac-10 has put the men's and women's basketball tournaments together at a time when the NCAA has been working hard to create more of an identity for the women's tournament. Is this an experiment or is it a long-term commitment?

Starting in 2009, yes. I certainly think that ultimately it's something that bears close watching because the last thing I think we want to do is anything that would blow the identity of or the progress being made by some of our women's programs. However, I hesitate to call it an experiment because we have voted to go there for at (I think) three years - I'd have to check that. So starting in 2009 it will be matched with the Pac-10 men's tournament in LA.

Is there any chance of rotating the location of the tournament?

The problem is that the Pac-10 men's tournament is owned by Fox Sports Properties. Just like we sold our marketing rights to ISP, the conference has sold the rights to the tournament to Fox. And Fox was part owner I think, at one point, of the Staples Center- and many of their business partners, their corporate sponsors, are there in LA - so they are motivated to keep it in LA.

We've banged on them pretty hard about putting out an RFP and to look at proposals from other places, because there is no doubt the membership wants it rotated. But frankly, I don't think were going to see it anytime soon.

Keeping Joanne Boyle was a big success - congratulations. When you heard about the Duke offer, what did you do? How did you make this work?

Well, as you know Joanne has had great success here in her first two years, and I'm certainly very proud of what they've done - and that they've done it the right way.

I knew what some of the jobs were that that might be open this spring, and I initiated conversations with Joanne pretty early, nothing heavy, just saying that obviously given the success we have had, we will want to take a look at enhancing her contract and extending it, just kind of laying it out there so that she knew it wasn't like any mystery,

The sequence actually was that Florida came after her first, and made her a very attractive offer from a compensation standpoint, so we negotiated essentially a new contract at that point, and put that to bed. And then Duke came around.

Actually Joanne and I had talked about that possibility during the course of the Florida discussions and Joanne had made it very clear that she was really happy here. There were certain things she wanted to see for her program, of course, just like there are some things I want to see for my department, but she made it clear she was really happy here- and that if the Duke situation did arise, that it would be a no-brainer.

So that certainly gave me some comfort, and I think in the end Joanne is a person of great principle who marches to her own beat, and in the end what I think it ultimately came down to is that she's really excited about what she is building here. She's committed to that, and for her to be able to build this program with her own mark on it, to her that made the difference.

Her commitment to Cal has made a lot of difference to other people as well, thinking both of the new players coming into the program and the new coach (Charmin Smith) that Joanne just hired.

It speaks to those kids about commitment and I think of that as a huge thing for Joanne too - I think she wanted to finish what she has started.

I want to ask about how you decide whether a program is in good shape, moving forward, and worth continuing with its present staff. I won't ask you for current evaluations of specific programs, but - what are the kinds of things you look at? How do you go about evaluating a program? Is it success on the court or field? Or graduation rates?

That's a great question - let me start with this: In the course of my three years here I've come up with this idea I call \"athletics done right.\" And it's really four things: athletic achievement, academic engagement, community representation, and being good stewards of our fiscal resources.

(The first thought is that) it's not acceptable to three of those four, or two of them, it has to be all four. Berkeley is a place that deserves to have it all. This is a place that doesn't compromise; this is a place that doesn't do \"win at all costs\".

So the way I set about evaluating a program is, how are we doing in those four areas? Are we competing at a high level? Are we going to post season play?

Of course, each sport is a little different so there are different nuances, but - are our student athletes having the opportunity to compete at a really high level?

I have a stated goal of competing for a national championship in everyone of our sports. But again that means different things in different sports, being in the hunt. I don't really expect a program to win a national championship year in and year out, even rugby. It's great what they do, but do you know how hard it is to win a national championship?

What we can really ask of them is to be in the hunt. And this one (of the four) is really important because this campus is about excellence, and our responsibility is to show that on the competitive battlefield. Others show it in the labs, or in public service, or whatever; our benchmark of excellence is to win.

The second area is academics. And that's GPA, graduation rates, and student athletes who are going to classes, who are engaged in the educational opportunity that they have here. We've had a couple of programs that have not had very good graduation rates.

Football has rectified its performance in this area - even though it is going to take some time for it to show up in the published rates. We know the raw data, we know what's happening there.

Men's basketball is a totally different issue, and as I have said, \"zero is zero.\" I don't care how it happens, zero is zero. Okay, if you have one kid in a class in a particular year who doesn't graduate because he transferred or because he went to the NBA - you know what? We can certainly understand that.

But for a four year rolling average to have a zero, that's a problem. That's a problem we need to address. And it's one that I think to Ben's credit (Head Coach Ben Braun) he has addressed very well. For this next year our APR for men's basketball will be 1000, and that will eventually lead to the graduation rates that we want.

The \"community representation\" area is about bringing in young men and women who make good decisions at two o'clock in the morning. It's about young men and women of character and integrity who represent this institution well. And the category has to include staff members too, and coaches and administrators who all have to represent the university well.

You know I talk every year to the football team, because Jeff Tedford asked me to, about, guys, don't give me this woe-is-me stuff because, like Steve Levy, you got blasted all over the media for throwing a pint glass at a bouncer. What I say to Steve is that if I did the same thing, the same thing would happen to me. If I go to the grocery store and I decide to get grouchy with a clerk, they would be saying, \"Did you hear what the Cal A.D. did?\" Coach Tedford, same thing. We bear the same cost.

It's the cost of being a public person.

Absolutely.

The last of the four areas is being good stewards of our fiscal resources.

We are highly dependent upon philanthropy, we are highly dependent upon people buying tickets, and we need to show people that we are being good stewards of those resources. The university provides us with a subsidy, and we have to show the university that we are using those resources wisely.

I will say frankly I think the institution should be providing a subsidy to college athletics because that says it's a priority for the university, that intercollegiate athletics is important. Of course then if we don't need it and if we returned it to the campus every year, then God bless us.

What are you most proud of?

What I am most proud of are the strides we have made in doing all four of these goals, in \"doing athletics right.\"

You know, I think that has always been here in varying different degrees, but the improvements on the academic side have been substantial.

What I am proud of is that I believe, from feedback getting, two things: First - the student athletes, across the board, whether you play football, or field hockey, or run track, or play water polo, believe that what they are doing is important for this university. And I believe that our administration has established those values through our operating principles, through our budgeting practices, where we as administrators spend our time, because it is. Each and every one of our 900 student-athletes, their experience in their four or five year window here, is important to me.

And then the second thing that I am proud of is that we as an athletic department are providing something for this university to be really proud of. And again, it kind of goes back to these core principles. Of course the winning is great, and I think that you all would be very excited about that, but you'd be a little less enthused about it if we were doing it with a 40% graduation rate, or if we were doing it with young men and women who were constantly in and out of trouble, because this is Berkeley.

And frankly, that's why I am here. It's because I knew this was a place that had those values. I tell our students all the time, and I give them all the credit, you know, I was told by numerous people, \"Don't take the Cal job, Sandy, Cal is schizophrenic about success\", and guess what, we're turning that around.

We're turning that around because our student-athletes are not giving the faculty or the community reasons to be negative about athletics. Our kids are going to class. Our kids are engaging in the classroom environment. They are graduating. They're doing really well on the field and on the court. Of course given that we are dealing with 17 to 22 year olds, there will be hiccups occasionally, but on the whole our kids represent this campus and this community very very well.

And finally, we are doing much better financially. Do we still have a university subsidy? Yes we do, but we have cut it by 25% in my three years. The Cal community deserves a lot of credit for that as well - Bear Backers are stepping up in record numbers to help us take that issue off the table.

When you first arrived at Berkeley and got a detailed look at all the issues surrounding athletics, what surprised you the most?

The pleasant surprise was that there was so much here. So much talent, so much coaching talent, so much administrative talent. I knew there was a lot of it here, but there was far more than I ever imagined. And that's helped us do what we've done in the last three years.

I think the surprise, the negative surprise, is that all of the jokes about Cal's bureaucracy and the decision-making, were true. I never imagined that it could be as dense as described. So yeah, that was a bad surprise. But the good news addendum to this is that with Chancellor Bergeneau's support we are changing all that. That, of course, and the baseball bat I carry around with me.

And how about the city of Berkeley? The town and gown conflict?

To be honest I've been in in several situations where town and gown relationships were not good, and some of those were struggles, so I don't know if that was a complete surprise. But disappointed? Yes.

I am completely disappointed that the city of Berkeley has chosen to pick a fight over this because I don't believe even one iota that their suit is about the Student Athlete High Performance Center, or even about the Memorial Stadium renovation. I believe it all goes back to the bigger town vs. gown issues. And as the defender of 27 programs and 900 student athletes I am really angry that the safety and conditions for success for these 900 student athletes that I care so much about is caught up in this. It's just not fair to them. It's not fair.

Pac-10 bowl games tend to be on the West Coast, for example in Hawaii or the at the Holiday Bowl. Is that because of a perception the fact West Coast fans don't travel well?

Yes, definitely. And we've got to figure out a way to break out of that. We've got to figure out a way for the Pac-10 to be attractive to the Cotton Bowl for one of their teams. USC is now going on year five of being one of the dominant programs in the country - and our resurgence helps; maybe UCLA is back, maybe not; then there's Oregon. You know, as we build and sustain consistent success as a conference I think we'll be able to do it.

Do you have statistics on actual West Coast fan travel?

Answer: Yes to some extent we do, but partly this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because we've never really been given the opportunity. Fiesta Bowl? Yes, okay, but that's actually Pac-10 territory. Remember USC to the Orange Bowl a couple of years ago? (Fan travel was) not all that good. And even to a BCS bowl, so the data is mixed.

How about Cal fan attendance at the Tennessee game last year? Did that provide any useful evidence?

Oh absolutely. And I pointed to that, and I point to the Vegas Bowl, not location-wise, but Cal was an 8-4 team in what ended up to be a kind of up and down season - and we could have sold 25,000 tickets to that bowl game but BYU (our opponent) had two weeks advance notice on us so our ticket allotment was less.

But this issue is really really important. When it comes down to picking Cal for a BCS at-large game, part of the selection criteria is going to be how many fans will Cal bring to a Fiesta Bowl or to a Rose Bowl (of course we know the answer to that one). But how many to Orange, or Sugar?

I've got to have evidence, I've got to have hard evidence to be able to say what we would bring so we're building that (evidence). And certainly the Tennessee game in terms of geography, when we go to Minnesota, when we go to Michigan State, when we go to Maryland, all of those will be indicators.

Many Cal fans are disappointed by the small allotment of tickets to the new stadium at Stanford, and the problem won't be going away. Has anybody put on the table the idea of having a neutral site where all interested fans could attend?

Yes, it has been discussed by Stanford and Cal, and in the end, if I remember correctly, Stanford did not want to give up their home game.

What had been proposed was one year at Stanford, one year at Cal, then one year at a neutral site.

In the end, despite the seating issue, we kind of both came to the conclusion that using a neutral site would water down the game experience and the rivalry.

I think Stanford may eventually decide that they need have a way to add bleacher seats to be able to accommodate fans for both our game and for the Notre Dame game.

I don't know where they are in season ticket sales right now, so depending on how their season goes it may or may not be an issue in terms of Cal fans being able to get tickets at game time.

So - it's unfortunate - and I certainly wish it could have remained the way it was.

The one positive is that we won't have to move Cal season-ticket holders for the Big Game this year because we will just give Stanford their 10,000 tickets in a little corner over there and be done with it.


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