Before I begin my overview of the season, I would like to share that Carol Christ was named UC Berkeley's new chancellor-designate yesterday, March 13. To learn more about this appointment, please visit the following link.
As you may know, January was a busy month for Cal Athletics and Cal football. Nonetheless, I'm thrilled by the new energy in our football program. Coach Justin Wilcox and his staff have enthusiastically embraced all things Cal. Our alumni, friends and team parents are meeting coaches and staff who have deep West Coast roots and who love to teach and work hard. This football staff knows how to recruit and win at a top academic institution like Cal and our new coaches appreciate the characteristics that make Cal special.
Cal football has a powerful impact on the Cal Family. Fifty thousand fans - including thousands of current students - attended our games on average in 2016. We also attracted more than 60,000 new Cal fans who watched us play the University of Hawaiíi in Sydney, Australia, last August. Game weekends in Berkeley generate tens of millions of dollars for local businesses and football is a great way to bring the Cal community together. It is essential to me that Cal football continue to bring us hope, excitement and entertainment.
In honoring Cal footballís place in our communityís heritage, I want to also acknowledge the great work being done by our winter sports programs. Tomorrow, collegiate titan Cal womenís swimming & diving will begin its quest for the podium at the NCAA Championship in Indianapolis, and a week later, our No. 1-ranked menís swimming & diving team heads to Indiana to begin its road to the national trophy. Both teams boast Olympians, world-class coaches and have contributed so much to Berkeleyís legacy of excellence. At the moment, menís and womenís gymnastics are also in the heat of their seasons, with womenís gymnastics ranked No. 16 in the nation heading into the Pac-12 Championships at Stanford this upcoming weekend. On the home front, No. 1 seed Cal men's basketball will host the National Invitational Tournament [NIT] in Haas Pavilion, facing the No. 8 seed, Cal State Bakersfield this evening. (To buy tickets for the NIT, please visit CalBears.com). And in exciting news, Cal women's basketball will participate in the NCAA tournament for the 12th time in its history. Be sure to tune in to ESPN2 to cheer on the Bears versus LSU this Saturday. These are only a few of our department's highlights and there are many more stories we can be proud of this year.
Spring is around the corner with more than a dozen of our programs in action from the top of Strawberry Canyon to the western edge of campus at Edwards Stadium and Hellman Tennis Complex. For Calís football student-athletes, spring means offseason training, a rigorous course load, Pro Day, the NFL Combine and the NFL Draft as well as final exams. This is a season that combines optimism with accomplishment. To top it all off, our seniors experience graduation festivities in May. These Commencement festivities are among my favorite because I can share in the happiness and pride of Calís graduating student-athletes, their friends and their families.
As you know, Cal has a long history of winning championships by combining excellent student-athletes with world-class coaching. Our student-athletes are also focused on the lifelong opportunities the Cal experience can provide, so it follows that Calís football student-athletes are no different. Iím excited that Coach Wilcox and his staff are committed to competing for championships and developing our players for life after football. Cal Athletics is committed to the comprehensive development of all student-athletes, and I am pleased at our studentsí growth.
I hope you will join us for the Cal Football Spring Game on Saturday, April 22 at 11 a.m. in California Memorial Stadium. I also look forward to seeing the 2017 Bears come together on the field in the fall. We have a lot to celebrate and many more goals to set and reach.
Fiat Lux and Go Bears!
Mike Williams í82
Director of Athletics