BERKELEY, Calif. — California announced a change in leadership in the athletic program on Friday, signaling the end of a 10-year run by athletic director Sandy Barbour that featured great success in nonrevenue sports as well as recent struggles on and off the field for the high-profile football team.
Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said the department needed a “fresh perspective” and said former Cal wrestler Michael Williams will take over as interim A.D. while the school seeks a full-time replacement for Barbour, who was Tulane’s athletic director from 1996-99.
Barbour arrived in 2004 and oversaw 19 team national championships, 92 titles in individual events, a Pac-10 co-championship in football, the first men’s basketball conference title in 50 years and the first Final Four trip for the women’s basketball team.
Cal placed in the top 10 of the Directors’ Cup six times since 2004-05, including a high of third place three years ago.
“She shaped a winning culture at Cal, while using her platform to promote athletics done with integrity,” women’s basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “Sandy ran a ‘big-time’ athletics program, while still genuinely caring about each student-athlete wearing blue and gold. She is one of the smartest people in college sports, and all of us at Cal benefited from her vision and leadership.”
Barbour also oversaw the construction of a new football facility and a major renovation to Memorial Stadium and made strong hires to bring on Mike Montgomery as men’s basketball coach in 2008 and Gottlieb as women’s basketball coach in 2011.
Montgomery retired after this past season and was replaced by Cuonzo Martin, who led Tennessee to the regional semifinals in the NCAA tournament in 2014.
But Barbour’s tenure was not without its troubles. The football team struggled in coach Jeff Tedford’s final years at the school and he was fired after going 3-9 in 2012. Barbour hired Sonny Dykes as his replacement and the Golden Bears went 1-11 in his first season, failing to beat a single FBS team.
Cal also had the lowest graduation rate for football players among major conference teams, according to data released by the NCAA last fall. The program has shown significant improvement of late in its academic performance after Barbour put more emphasis on academic support.
Dirks said that after several discussions with Barbour the two decided this was the right time for a change in leadership.
Cajuns’ Deggs off to SHSU
Matt Deggs, who served the past two seasons as hitting coach for Louisiana-Lafayette, was named the eighth head coach at Sam Houston State in an announcement Friday.
Deggs, 42, and a native of Texas City, Texas, served as the Cajuns hitting coach and third base coach while also overseeing team personnel and recruiting. He is the sixth assistant under coach Tony Robichaux to be named a Division I head coach, joining Todd Butler (Wichita State), Jim Ricklefsen (McNeese State, now at Lamar), John Szefc (Maryland), Brad Holland (former ULM coach) and Wade Simoneaux (former Louisiana Tech coach).
“Every coach that takes on an assistant position, somewhere in there they have a goal and a desire to become a head baseball coach,” Robichaux said. “When he came on board with us 2 1/2 years ago, it was only going to be matter of time before he had the opportunity to become a head coach. Having Matt do what he did over the last 2 1/2 years for us with our hitters has really been phenomenal.
“We wish Matt and his family the best of luck in their new adventure in Huntsville. It wasn’t the easiest decision for him, but it’s a decision that will go on to help him grow as a coach.
“Now, he has the opportunity to call a program his own. We hate to see him go … he will be sorely missed.”
Deggs replaces David Pierce, who is now the coach at Tulane.
Tenn. A.D. Cronan retiring
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Retiring Tennessee women’s athletic director emeritus Joan Cronan said the school will withstand the adversity it’s encountered since consolidating its men’s and women’s athletic departments.
But she wants to make sure the Lady Vols brand and logo remain an integral part of the school’s tradition. The orange “T” is used for the men’s teams and “Lady Volunteers” logo is added for the women’s teams.
Cronan says “that logo stands for so much” and notes that “McDonald’s wouldn’t give up its arches.”
Cronan was the Tennessee women’s athletic director from 1983-2012. She has spent the last two years under contract as women’s athletic director emeritus and adviser to the chancellor.
The 70-year-old Cronan will maintain the emeritus title after Monday when she retires.
Indiana to offer multi-year scholarships
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana is going to begin guaranteeing multi-year scholarships to athletes and will agree not to reduce the amount of money students on partial scholarship receive year to year based on illness, injury or ability.
Athletic director Fred Glass told The Indianapolis Star in a story Friday that the school immediately will begin implementing a 10-point student-athlete bill of rights. It will include significant financial support to former athletes who wish to return to finish their degrees and increased health care commitments.
Earlier this week, the Big Ten said it supports guaranteed four-year scholarships and improved medical coverage for its athletes. In 2012, NCAA members voted to allow Division I schools to offer scholarships guaranteed for more than one year.