Barbour: "I Stayed Too Long" at Cal

Penn State's new athletic director admits she should have cut out of her previous job sooner. She headed up the Golden Bear athletic department for roughly a decade.

Sandy Barbour's exit from the athletic director's position at Cal last month has been painted in many different ways.

Search news sites and you will see it described as “stepping down” or being “re-assigned.” The San Francisco Examiner even called it a “firing.”

After being named athletic director at Penn State Saturday, Barbour was asked specifically how she viewed her departure from the same position with the Golden Bears. She held that post from September 2004 through June.

“I think what it really boils down to is I stayed too long,” she replied. “Ten years leading a program like Cal — like Penn State, in terms of a major conference and a lot of sports and a lot of moving parts — 10 years is a long time. Frankly, if you look around the country, there are very few (ADs) that have 10 years — that kind of length. “

In announcing the hire, PSU president Eric Barron praised the 54-year-old Barbour for her “breadth of experience, everything from being a student-athlete all the way to being an AD. This is incredibly valuable.” He hit on a long list of successes Cal had during her tenure (including 19 national team titles).

When addressing the recent poor graduation rates of the Bears men's basketball (38 percent) and football (44 percent) programs, Barron said a discussion with Cal chancellor Nicholas Dirks revealed, “Sandy was a champion for the success of the student and she was putting significant pressure to make sure the situation improved.”

“Ultimately it's about having stayed a little too long. But it was because I was loyal — I'm a loyalist.”

Barron also said, “You watched a lot of things at Cal that occurred because of very significant budget cuts that as we all know rippled through the whole California university system.”

“Dr. Barron talked about it a little bit,” Barbour said. “We did a lot of things (at Cal). Some of them were well received, some of them were not so well received.”

In hindsight, she said, she should have left sooner.

“Ultimately it's about having stayed a little too long,” Barbour said. “But it was because I was loyal — I'm a loyalist. I love Cal and I love living in California. I wanted to stay, and in the end, at some point you stay too long.”

So does that make Penn State a fresh start?

“I don't know that this is a fresh start,” she answered. “And I don't know that a fresh start is necessarily a good thing, because I bring a lot of experience that I think is going to be valuable.

“This is my Penn State start.”

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