Friday, September 19, 2014

AFTER NEXT WEEK CAL ATHLETICS WILL NEVER, EVER BE THE SAME










The report is on his desk.  It will be made public next Thursday or Friday.

During halftime of tomorrow night’s Bears/Wildcats imbroglio, Chancellor Dirks will have some fun reading.

And kudos to him—at this point. 

He has recognized that College athletics are undergoing a revolution and he’s not leaving it up to a bunch of white guys in blazers, who tell a lot of golf jokes, to figure out what to do about it.

Make no bones about it.  I want to make the world safe for young boys to run into each other at full speed and knock the snot out of one another. That's what young men were born to do, feel and be.

It doesn’t make them better than women.  It’s just something that (generally, but not always) turns them on more than it does the distaff side.

That being said, Cal’s Ray-Rice-video-moment came two years ago when the NCAA reported that our football team came in absolutely dead last (123rd) of all FBS (whatever that means) teams.

(The year before a tall good lookin’ guy wrote that Cal was 112th out of 122, but that didn’t even raise an eyebrow in the Athletic department or former Chancellor’s office).  How 112th was acceptable, but 123rd is not makes fodder for a future column.

Under former Athletic Director, Sandy Barbour our football team had undergone three consecutive years of APR scores of 934, 926, and 923 leading to five year average of  935.  It's not like we didn't have some warning regarding the State of Denmark.

Over 6 years only 44% of our kids graduated.  Basketball was worse.

(Last year the APR came up to 969 for a five year average of 938).

The Chancellor (with the guidance of rock star CFO, John Wilton) seems to understand that like a wine cellar after the Napa Quake, due to court rulings, concussions, Title IX infractions, potential law suits, “illiterate” athletes competing, academic fraud, cries of “pay for play,” unionization, drugs, cheating, payola, recruiting violations, booster abuses, arrests, and obscene TV dollars—college sports—how we relate to them--and their role on campus are apt to be unrecognizable to us five years from now.

There are a lot of moving parts.

So on January 14th at the behest of Chancellor Dirks, Penn State’s new AD put together an “Academic Task Force” headed up by Dr. Meg Conkey, professor emerita of anthropology. 

“We’re looking at how we can shine a light on those students who are able to major in molecular and cell biology and go on to vet school while winning a medal in swimming, but we also have to make sure to address the more negative experiences,” Conkey said.

So far so good.

Richard Rhodes, associate dean of the College of Letters and Science was quoted, “My aspirations (as a task force member) are to fix what can be fixed and to get the gross misconceptions about admissions corrected,” said “We don’t admit dumb jocks.”

Not good. 

Good manners prevents one from mentioning certain children who wore the Blue and Gold for a year or two and entered Cal barely able to read.  (My daughter talks of tutoring kids who had no idea of what a noun was).

If we’re going to solve this thing, we’ve got to start by being honest.  

(That includes dropping the fa├žade that Football’s GSR is poor because so many leave early for the pros.  If they leave in good standing, THEY DO NOT COUNT AGAINST A TEAM’S GSR).  You can look that up on the NCAA website.

So what will the report say?

I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.

Let’s stipulate that the sainted Pete Newell, and all former AD’s like Dave Maggard, Steve Gladstone and others came to the job with certain biases developed from their athletic pasts, education, family life and personal experiences.

That was no less true of Penn State’s current AD—and is equally true of the writer of this drivel.  We all have our biases and inheirant value systems.

To be polite, let’s just say that the value system of our last AD, especially vis a vis, academics, Alumni relations (the manner in which sports were cut—not the cutting), distain for all things Cal (eviscerating “Cal guys” from the athletic Department); not getting what “Loyal Golden Bears” are all about (playing our home Big Game in the 49er Stadium?); and personal ambition (building a personal resume at the expense of our school)—to say nothing of misunderstanding how Title IX works regarding eliminating sports--made for a difficult 10 years for some of us.

There were some pluses—John Montgomery, the Olympics and landing Missy Franklin were not the least of them—but I digress.

An expert in Paleolithic Art (I myself am on the Paleo Diet), Ms. Conkey is highly respected  and made her reputation in the Lascaux caves of France re-interpreting the 30,000 year old paintings based on her background in feminist theory and the anthropology of gender.  Discover Magazine named her among the "50 Most Important Women in Science."

She’s been the faculty rep for Women’s lacrosse and will certainly bring a fresh perspective to the two main revenue sports, Football and men’s basketball.

No doubt the report will talk of excellence and emphasizing the “student” side of student/athlete.

The words “time management” and “character” will be scattered throughout.

As a former member of the Women’s Athletics Board, I hope it emphasizes the way women athletes are academically kicking the backsides of men in most sports (Rugby, Tennis and Crew, not withstanding).

How they will address the “negative experiences” could be an eye opener—and is the opportunity for a game changer.

The biggest thing to look for, perhaps, is to whom the new Athletic Director reports. 

Currently, John Wilton, who is a brilliant financial guy, is in charge.  The A.D. reports to the Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance as she did to Frank Yeary, Nathan Bostrom, and Horace Mitchell before him.

With him, we are in good hands--and I'd hate to see us change at this point.   But the Chancellor isn't asking for the opinion of moi.

Will the committee recommend that the AD report to the Provost, or some other Vice Chancellor—marking a direct line to Chancellor Dirks?

Or will they split it in some fashion—revenue sports to one Vice Chancellor and non-revenue to another?

We live in interesting times.  

And if you are a fan of Cal Sports, nothing will be more interesting than what that report says next week.

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70

For now it's speculation.  If you want to discuss it further, we didn’t lose all our Cab in the quake.  Stop by if you get up this way and enjoy some.


Chancellor’s Task Force on Academics and Athletics, 2014
Mark Brilliant – associate professor of history and American studies
Brandi Wilkens Catanese — associate professor of theater, dance and performance studies/African American studies. Co-chair of Academic Senate Committee, Student Diversity and Academic Development
Margaret Conkey — Class of 1960 Professor Emerita of Anthropology, task force chair
Joseph Crenshaw — Cal alumnus and former football player
Nzingha Dugas — director, African-American Multicultural Student Development Center
Rick Feller — head coach, women’s volleyball
Kai Felton — assistant coach, women’s basketball (academic liaison)
Kirsten Hextrum — Cal Alumna, former crew, currently graduate student in education.
Solomon Hughes — Cal alumnus, men’s basketball, Ph.D.; academic adviser, athletics ( men’s basketball), Stanford University
Rob Likens — assistant coach, football  (academic liaison)
Stefan McClure — student-athlete (football)
Vincent Minjares — senior adviser, Academic Study Center ( men’s basketball)
Mohamed Muqtar — assistant director, Student Services, Intercollegiate Athletics
Richard Rhodes — associate dean, College of Letters and Science – linguistics, chair of Academic Senate Committee on Admissions, Enrollment and Educational Preparation
Jenny Simon-O’Neill — associate director of Athletics, intercollegiate services; Intercollegiate Athletics
David Surratt — interim dean of students
H. Michael Williams — alumnus, wrestling; Board of Trustees, UC Berkeley Foundation
Sheldon Zedeck — professor emeritus, psychology; former vice provost for academic affairs and faculty welfare
Student # 2 — to be finalized (not a student-athlete)