BERKELEY (KCBS)— UC Berkeley wrestling coach and alum H. Michael Williams has been tapped to replace outgoing Athletic Director Sandy Barbour. UC’s chancellor made the announcement Friday, saying their sports program needs a new direction.
Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said Williams; a well-known university figure will be the interim replacement for Barbour who will step down from her position effective July 15th.
Barbour saw plenty of success in her 10 years on the field, including 19 team national championships, but recent off the field setbacks, most notably a report that came out last year that listed Cal’s football program as having the worst graduation rate among 72 major conference universities. That had Chancellor Dirks worried.
“We both talked a lot about graduation rates in the fall. Of course that had been behind the transition in the football program the year before, even before I got here. A lot of work was already being done and a lot of work since then has been done,” Dirks said.
He doesn’t blame Barbour, but at Friday’s news conference, Dirks said that it was time for a change. Barbour agreed, so he’s asked Williams to step in on an interim basis.
“I look forward to working with the chancellor with the coaches, with the staff, the faculty and deans as we think about how to move the athletic department forward,” Williams said.
Barbour said she had the utmost respect for the chancellor, her successor and the student athletes she cherished every day she was there.
“I love this institution. I really do and I wouldn’t trade one minute of the last 10 years,” Barbour said.
She’ll remain on campus to help develop a sports management program. Williams and his ultimate successor will likely be pressured to improve the graduation rates before the football program that only won a single game last year.