BERKELEY -- Cal's search for an athletic director could take almost a year, said Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, who will rely on significant input from the interim director he appointed two weeks ago.
In his first public comments since announcing June 27 that Sandy Barbour was out after a decade on the job, Dirks on Wednesday provided more details on his expected timeline and the process that will determine the next athletic director.
Cal alum Michael Williams will begin his assignment as interim AD on Tuesday, and is charged with running the department while providing Dirks with regular feedback on what he sees as priorities going forward.
Dirks said nothing tangible, including the hiring of a search firm or the assembling of a search committee, will begin until the Chancellor's Task Force on Academics and Athletics provides its recommendations. That report originally was scheduled to be delivered by late June, but now is expected in September.
One of Williams' most important tasks, Dirks said, will be as "the person at the helm for when we get the recommendations from the task force to figure out how to respond positively and meaningfully to the task force."
Dirks created that panel last fall to generate a plan to improve the academic standing of Cal's sports teams. Academics stand as a priority for the new hire, alongside elevating the finances of a department that faces a $474 million long-term stadium renovation debt, and four years ago nearly was forced to cut four sports and reclassify a fifth.
Asked to describe the ideal candidate profile, Dirks said he's seeking "people who are wizards at financial management, terrific at recruiting, retaining and inspiring coaches and student-athletes, people who are gifted fundraisers," Dirks said. "They have to walk on water. Short of that, we hope there will be lots of people who can fill that role."
Because most candidates will be employed at other schools, Dirks said he doesn't expect to complete the process sooner than February or March, possibly not until June.
"We're going to pause for a minute. We don't have to rush," said Dirks, who anticipates holding a series of town-hall style meetings for various constituencies, including students and alums, locally and on the road in cities such as Los Angeles and New York.
Williams, retired from his career as an investment banker, has agreed to stay on for up to a year. He is being paid a salary, Dirks said, but will fold that into his philanthropic giving to his alma mater, meaning he is essentially a volunteer.
Dirks reiterated that Williams does not want to be a candidate for the permanent position.