Cal AD Jim Knowlton Still Determined to Maintain All 30 Sports

Jeff Faraudo

Calling it “a tough day,” Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton said he still hopes to keep all 30 sports and has a plan for allowing all of them to potentially compete at the same time next spring.

UPDATE: Knowlton also referred to likely having to make "personnel actions," which a department spokesperson said could include furloughs or salary reductions. A previous version of this story suggested the likelihood of staff layoffs, but Knowlton never specifically uses that word.

In the wake of the Pac-12 Conference shutting down all sports for the remainder of the 2020 calendar year — including postponing football until possibly the spring — Knowlton said all of Cal’s athletes will retain their scholarships and full department support.

He also reiterated Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott’s vow from earlier Tuesday, saying Cal will lobby the NCAA to make sure athletes do not lose a year of eligibility if their season doesn’t happen.

Knowlton has been adamant since arriving at Berkeley in the spring of 2018 that he values Cal’s broad offering of sports — one of the biggest in the NCAA — and he has said during the pandemic that he still wants to keep all of them.

He said his position did not change with Tuesday’s news.

“The chancellor and I have been in alignment since I arrived that cutting sports would be an absolute last resort,” he said, referring to Cal Chancellor Carol Christ. “Right now we don’t know what the spring will hold. We don’t know if we’ll have spring football.

“We’ve already got a plan in place ready to go if we are short, roughly $50 million in revenue. We’ve already worked through a plan that will allow us to continue to meet our budget numbers.

“I’m not thinking about cutting sports. It’s not one of the branches or sequels we’re looking at. We’re going to continue to support 850 student-athletes in 30 sports.”

If football is able to re-start in January or February, overlapping with both both traditional winter and spring sports, Knowlton said there is a way to make it all happen.

“What was amazing is we came up with a plan for how we could do it, how we could support it. Now, it would be exhausting,” he said.

Knowlton said he held a virtual meeting with head coaches of all of Cal’s sports and plans to meet with them again in the coming days.

He said Cal would look into the loan program the Pac-12 is planning. First reported by Jon Wilner of the Mercury News, the program would allot up to $83 million for each school, at an interest rate of 3.75 percent over the next 10 years.

In terms of what the fiscal shortfall could mean to the athletic department staff, Knowlton says in the video below, "We've modeled multiple ways that we can reduce our expenses, and there certainly will be some human resource decisions that we'll make."


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