Update: Cal AD Jim Knowlton Not a Candidate for Northwestern AD Job

Knowlton, Washington State AD interview for vacant athletic director position at the Big Ten school but Knowlton no longer in the mix
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Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton was one of two Pac-12 athletic directors who have interviewed for the athletic director vacancy at Northwestern, according to a report by Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News on Saturday.

The other Pac-12 A.D. who interviewed for the Northwestern post was Washington State’s Pat Chun.

However, Wilner reported on Monday via twitter that Knowlton is no longer a candidate for the Northwestern opening, if he ever was under consideration.

Northwestern is searching for a replacement for Jim Phillips, who was named commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

A decision on the next Northwestern A.D. could could come in the next week or 10 days, according to the report.

Cal issued the following statement on Saturday from Knowlton after Wilner requested a comment:

“We have a great thing going here at Cal with a bright future ahead. I’m proud of what we have accomplished over my first three years and am looking forward to building on what he have started.”

Apparently Knowlton is happy to stay at Cal.

Wilner described the Northwestern athletic director’s post as a premier job, comparable to Stanford, Duke and Vanderbilt, and noted several reasons the Northwestern job might be attractive:

--More than $50 million in annual payouts from the Big Ten.

--The qualify of life in Evanston (although folks in Berkeley would argue that the quality of life in the Bay Area is not bad).

--Slightly less pressure to win big in football (although Cal folks would claim there is not quite the high level of pressure to win that there is at other Pac-12 schools).

Presumably, Knowlton would also get significantly more money at Northwestern, but that is a moot point now since he is not a candidate.

Northwestern's football team has been to a bowl game in five of the past six seasons and has ended the season ranked in the top 25 in five of the past nine seasons. The Wildcats played in the Big Ten championship game two of the past three years, and they finished the 2020 season ranked No. 10 under Pat Fitzgerald, who has been the Northwestern head coach since 2006.

The Northwestern men's basketball team received an NCAA tournament berth for the first time ever in 2017, but the Wildcats have had four losing seasons since then.

Northwestern also has a new football facility, and it is a private school, which means it will not have all red tape that a public institution like Cal has when making a decision.

Knowlton spent three years at Air Force before being hired at Cal on April 9, 2018. His background in the academic requirements of athletes would be attractive to Northwestern.

Knowlton predecessor Mike Williams hired football coach Justin Wilcox, but Knowlton hired the present men’s and women’s basketball coaches – Mark Fox and Charmin Smith.


Cover photo of Jim Knowlton and Justin Wilcox by Kelley L. Cox, USA TODAY Sports


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