(Written by Ken Crawford)
Sandy Barbour is “stepping down” (inside word is that she fought it but then took the dignified way out) as AD. Today I feel similar to the day I heard Tedford was gone, although I’m less convinced that she needed to go.
Sandy bled Blue and Gold. Sandy cared a GREAT deal about the student athletes and she carried herself with dignity and treated everyone else with the same sort of dignity. It was always interesting to see her at events at which she wasn’t in a lead role (like at an away Football game on the field). You could tell that she saw her role as supporting those who were in the trenches doing the real work. She walked the journey with them.
Yet there is no doubt that things have been a bit rough for the athletic program. The graduation rate problem falls squarely on her shoulders. It was her job to push her coaches to make sure they kept on top of their players.
The other big issue is the Memorial Stadium finances. I must admit I think this is a mixed bag. One should never look at the finances for this and forget the most important point: She got it built.
Many before her had tried and failed. She ended up in an epic battle to get it built. When you’re that sort of a battle you do everything in your power to minimize the number of things that could stand in your way. To that end, she needed to make sure the finances didn’t get in the way and came up with a plan that made sure that was the case. The 1st day the bulldozers could move, she needed them ready to go. A stoppage while waiting for funding to come in would have been devastating and allowed the opponents to re-group and find a new way to bring things to a halt.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that it’s a LONG time before the stadium financing ends up becoming a burden on the athletic department or the campus as a whole. While it is fair to call it a ticking time-bomb, there is an unstated benefit to such a bomb: There’s time to defuse it.
Cal has another 20+ years to figure out how to dig itself out of this mess. That’s a long time. All it takes is another Tedford-like run of success and focusing the dollars that come from it towards the debt and the problem could go away. Even if we don’t have another such run, there are still other incremental things that can be done to minimize the damage of when those bonds come due.
Nevertheless, perception is, as they say, reality. And it doesn’t help the program to have someone at the helm who is sitting on a perception problem (the finances) in addition to a few real missteps that will haunt her and her ability to inspire confidence in the donors (and make no mistake, the big donors are BY FAR the most important people to have on board).
So, it’s reasonable to say it was time for Sandy to go.
But that doesn’t make it any harder to swallow that someone who bled Blue and Gold, someone who had great dignity and treated everyone else with that same dignity, has to be cast aside.
Thank you Sandy for your dedication to Cal athletics and God bless you in your future.