Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletics - December 2016 Update

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks sent the following message to campus on Dec. 23, 2016:

Dear Friends and Colleagues, 

Before departing for winter break I want to provide the Cal community with a brief update regarding our Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletics (TFIA). At a recent meeting the task force co-chairs, alumnus Robert O’Donnell and Professor Robert Powell, provided us with a comprehensive briefing about progress to date. Given the importance of, and widespread interest in, their work, I want to share with all of you updated information about where things stand. 

At this point, the Task Force has not offered or developed recommendations, and the administration has not made any decisions. The work of the task force has been guided by a shared belief that the University greatly benefits from a strong, financially sustainable Intercollegiate Athletics program that has the ability to help Berkeley’s student-athletes succeed on the field of play, in the classroom, and in their post-graduation lives. In that context the TFIA is considering and analyzing a wide range of scenarios and strategies as part of its efforts to develop constructive, viable recommendations that will increase the department’s revenues and/or contain its costs. 

To date, the TFIA has held extremely helpful listening sessions with a wide range of stakeholders, including alumni, faculty, coaches, students, and staff, as well as financial, compliance, and development professionals. They have heard a diverse range of perspectives, and have received a number of important ideas and proposals in the course of these discussions. 

During the course of its bi-weekly meetings the TFIA has also been reviewing detailed financial data; delving into the intricacies of Title IX in so far as it relates to intercollegiate athletics; and evaluating a wide range of scenarios and ideas in order to answer the following questions that were laid out in the original “charge letter”: 

  • For each element of IA’s program, what are the costs and benefits to campus (both material and cultural)?
  • How do the requirements of Title IX affect our choices about how to reshape the program?
  • Given the costs, benefits, and regulatory constraints, what is the appropriate scale and scope for the total program?
  • How much will the campus need to invest on an ongoing basis in order to sustain IA at different levels within NCAA guidelines? 

That same charge letter described our initial expectation that the TFIA would be able to present its proposals by the beginning of the Spring semester: in January, 2017. Yet, early on I also made clear to the TFIA members that we would be ready to accommodate an extension if they felt more time was needed in order to complete this complicated task. During our recent meeting, the co-chairs reported that while they are making progress, more time is indeed needed because of the inherent complexity of the questions at hand and the time it has taken to consult and engage with the numerous stakeholder groups. 

While it is evident that there is an extraordinarily broad range of perspectives, opinions, and visions when it comes to Cal Athletics’ future, I believe that all of us are united in the belief that the interests of the department, our University, and, most importantly, our student-athletes, are best served if we allow the TFIA the time necessary to meet the demands of a complex mission that will have a lasting impact on our campus and its extended community. 

We will keep you updated as work progresses. In the meantime, I want to offer everyone our very best wishes for the holiday season and a happy New Year.

Go Bears! 


Nicholas Dirks