Story Poster
Photo by Cal Athletics
Cal Basketball

The Cal Basketball Hiring Process and the Imperative for NIL $$

March 28, 2023
14,720

It’s our understanding that Cal will announce Mark Madsen as its next Head Basketball Coach as soon as Utah Valley’s season concludes.   He’s a young, dynamic coach with the energy and passion required to help turn the Bears basketball program around.    However, he will come to Cal under a cloud not of his making around the hiring process that eventually led to his being offered the job.  He will also face the daunting task of having to immediately raise the significant NIL $$ needed to rebuild the roster.

As we laid out on Sunday in this article, Jim Knowlton took a different approach to finding a head coach than the one he utilized back in 2019 which resulted in Mark Fox being hired.  To summarize:

(1) - He held listening conversations with existing and new potential donors, former players and coaches, Cal’s NBA alumni/experts as well as AAU, HS, and Int’l coaches and recruiting services.   He solicited feedback from a broad group of people.

(2)  - According to sources, he has meaningfully increased the size of the budget for Men’s Basketball which would allow Cal to attract and retain a top-tier staff, and give the program the support services (Nutrition, Travel, Recruiting) needed to aid the Bears as they pursue becoming a top 25 program

(3) - The foundation was laid for a Caliber fund for Basketball and soft pledges were made to that fund and to NIL from donors

All of the above are encouraging and laid the foundation for a positive and successful search process.  

In the end, how the process unfolded and the decisions made, including whom to offer were driven as per the role of the Athletic Director, by Jim Knowlton.

This included laying out to candidates that Cal had a significant pledge for NIL and multiple groups of donors who were ready to add to that amount.   This of course is proving problematic as those pledges were made either explicitly for a particular candidate or were contingent on a process being run that would be inclusive and objective with the sole goal of finding the best possible candidate for the job.  More on that below as we touch on the NIL $$ gap that now exists.

It also resulted in one particular individual having an outsized influence on the process, that being former Cal and Hall of Fame coach, Mike Montgomery.   Montgomery’s resume and his basketball expertise speak for themselves.   He’s incredibly well respected for what he accomplished at Stanford and in six years in Berkeley.   He is, however, a former coach.  And anyone who has spent time with college football and basketball coaches knows that the one trait that almost all of them have in common is their unwavering loyalty to their former players, assistant coaches and their families who may still be in the profession.

Of all the folks with whom Knowlton significantly consulted in the process, the only group that is not tied to money being raised for NIL and for the nascent Caliber fund is the former coaches.  It’s also worth noting that Montgomery was never known as a top-flight recruiter (perhaps Cal’s most important prerequisite in its new coach) nor was he a coach during the era of the transfer portal and NIL.   Thus, the most influential individual in the decision on who would be Cal’s head coach has no ability to impact fundraising, almost certainly has his loyalty to a former player at the top of his goals and is not an expert in the two most critical elements of being a head coach in 2023 - Raising money and recruiting.

The result is that Randy Bennett became a favorite.   He’s similar to Montgomery in his outsized success as a winning college coach and his approach to recruiting and the newest aspects of college basketball at a Power 5 school.    The next impact of Coach Montgomery’s involvement was that a narrative was created that Joe Pasternack did not have the right personality profile for the Cal job.   Pasternack was a fierce competitor of Montgomery’s while at both Cal and Arizona winning numerous recruiting battles and games against Stanford and Cal during Montgomery’s tenure as their head coach.  It seems likely that those battles left some hard feelings that undoubtedly shaded Montgomery's views on Pasternack.  

In the end, the coach who emerged as Knowlton’s choice was Montgomery’s likely hand-picked candidate, Mark Madsen.   Make no mistake, Madsen was a worthy candidate and has the potential to be an outstanding coach at Cal.   However, was he objectively the best possible candidate?    And was he worth the cost of breaking the intended inclusive process and one that prioritized donor support and the reality of the need for NIL money?   It’s unlikely.

Madsen comes to Berkeley ready to roll.  He’s well plugged into the portal and has started to build a staff that could be world-class.  The addition of John Montgomery is still TBD and despite whatever strengths he has as a coach would further underline that Cal and Knowlton ran a process that was not run free from personal agendas and goals.   The overriding priority now becomes recruiting and in today's world, that starts and ends with NIL.

The major NIL pledge he assumed he inherited is in significant jeopardy.  If those donors do recommit it will likely be in lower amounts and paid over time.   Money has to be raised quickly before players with an interest in Madsen and Cal go elsewhere.   And this has to happen with the backdrop of an unpopular Athletic Director whose under investigation and a process that has left what was a multi-million dollar consortium of donors feeling angry and disenfranchised.   

That’s on Cal and its Athletic Department.   It’s not on Mark Madsen.   We as Cal fans and donors now have to decide how we can make clear our displeasure with the leadership of the Athletic Department and its ongoing approach to taking donor and fan dollars while solving for things not related to the intentions those fans and donors believed they were contributing to with their dollars.  And simultaneously embrace and support Mark Madsen and find the dollars needed to support his rebuild of Cal Basketball.

As a member of the Board of Directors of Cal’s Legends Collective, I hope that anyone who can make a significant donation reaches out to me in the near future if they want to make a material and immediate impact on the Bears basketball program.   I further hope that all of us do all that we can with our voices if not our dollars to create enduring change in how Cal approaches athletics and its relationship with its fans and donors.  

Discussion from...

The Cal Basketball Hiring Process and the Imperative for NIL $$

8,435 Views | 33 Replies | Last: 5 mo ago by calumnus
75bear
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Thanks for the update.

Who is the first person "I" who wrote this article - Jim McGill? Someone else?
BearlyCareAnymore
How long do you want to ignore this user?
75bear said:

Thanks for the update.

Who is the first person "I" who wrote this article - Jim McGill? Someone else?


Yeah, I really appreciate you putting this out there. We have too many people who counter every criticism with "you don't really know. No one knows. Let's assume all is hunky dory" response when nothing is ever hunky dory.

Maybe this one time they will understand that WE DO KNOW.

Now that some of y'all can't play dumb to this I hope you will revisit the idea that donors who are not fulfilling the terms of a deal the other side broke are not being petty.

And seriously, there is plenty of juice to make that pending investigation come out however Cal wants it to. If it doesn't come out the right way, I don't know what to say.
annarborbear
How long do you want to ignore this user?
I would like to know the names of the donors who would only accept their own proposed candidate if they, in fact, insist on that.

Put your name on a building or create a scholarship fund in your name. But our coaching selections should not be for sale.
BearlyCareAnymore
How long do you want to ignore this user?
annarborbear said:

I would like to know the names of the donors who would only accept their own proposed candidate if they, in fact, insist on that.

Put your name on a building or create a scholarship fund in your name. But our coaching selections should not be for sale.


You are being willfully ignorant at this point. That is not what anyone says went down.
JimSox
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Well this is a wonderful greeting for our new coach. As of this writing, he hasn't signed yet. Are you and the big donors now adopting a wait-and-see, go slow attitude trying to convince him it's an impossible situation here? Trying to convince him to reconsider? Is he in for back-biting and I told you so's if things don't go perfectly right off the bat? Great.
I am not a big donor. I'm an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny donor. I never considered contributing to NIL, figuring the money I give to the Athletic Dept. and pay for tix is all I can afford. But I have re-considered. The time for re-hashing the process over and over is past. If MM actually comes, what he and the program will need is support.
Once he signs, I will contribute what little I can. I hope others will pony up as well. Especially the folks with the big bucks.
BearlyCareAnymore
How long do you want to ignore this user?
JimSox said:

Well this is a wonderful greeting for our new coach. As of this writing, he hasn't signed yet. Are you and the big donors now adopting a wait-and-see, go slow attitude trying to convince him it's an impossible situation here? Trying to convince him to reconsider? Is he in for back-biting and I told you so's if things don't go perfectly right off the bat? Great.
I am not a big donor. I'm an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny donor. I never considered contributing to NIL, figuring the money I give to the Athletic Dept. and pay for tix is all I can afford. But I have re-considered. The time for re-hashing the process over and over is past. If MM actually comes, what he and the program will need is support.
Once he signs, I will contribute what little I can. I hope others will pony up as well. Especially the folks with the big bucks.


The time for holding the athletic department accountable for their incompetence is always past, not here yet, not appropriate right now. Ask again in two years.

If I were the donors I would say that someone should sit down with Knowlton and explain the risks of that investigation being really bad for him and maybe he should take a modest buyout now to avoid the trouble. And if that happens I'll put my pledge back on the table.
JimSox
How long do you want to ignore this user?
BearlyCareAnymore said:

JimSox said:

Well this is a wonderful greeting for our new coach. As of this writing, he hasn't signed yet. Are you and the big donors now adopting a wait-and-see, go slow attitude trying to convince him it's an impossible situation here? Trying to convince him to reconsider? Is he in for back-biting and I told you so's if things don't go perfectly right off the bat? Great.
I am not a big donor. I'm an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny donor. I never considered contributing to NIL, figuring the money I give to the Athletic Dept. and pay for tix is all I can afford. But I have re-considered. The time for re-hashing the process over and over is past. If MM actually comes, what he and the program will need is support.
Once he signs, I will contribute what little I can. I hope others will pony up as well. Especially the folks with the big bucks.


The time for holding the athletic department accountable for their incompetence is always past, not here yet, not appropriate right now. Ask again in two years.

If I were the donors I would say that someone should sit down with Knowlton and explain the risks of that investigation being really bad for him and maybe he should take a modest buyout now to avoid the trouble. And if that happens I'll put my pledge back on the table.
I'm not talking about holding the Athletic Department accountable. I'm talking about supporting Madsen and the players with NIL money. If he's a good guy and good coach like everyone says, for goodness sake get behind him.
philbert
How long do you want to ignore this user?
This is what the top earning player gets from NIL. Wow!


Big C
How long do you want to ignore this user?
^^^ I don't know if he's the top player, but he's the top earner... something to do with his name. ^^^
Pittstop
How long do you want to ignore this user?
But WHY? Publicity? Marketing? Because, other than that, he's a freaking 6'2" guard who is not close to being a game changer (IMHO). I don't even believe that he's the best player on his HS team.
MinotStateBeav
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Article seems to be poisoning the well don't ya think?
GerryLopez
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Fired up about Madsen!!!!!!!
This guy has integrity, he is hard working, people love him, he is organized and his players love him.

I do not see the productivity in this investigating the process angle and tearing apart everything that ever happens at Cal. We love to eat our own. We do not have an idea how this goes on other places. I read the process and seems pretty good to me.

As far as Joe P goes, I know people who know him personally. He was always iffy about coming back to Cal. He and his family LOVE Santa Barbara.

I love Montgomery and he is the only one that brought us a League championship in my time and did not leave the program in a total mess as well.

Time to get on board and hope that Madsen will join us and bring some positivity and hard work to the Bears because that's all you can really do.
GerryLopez
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Can someone tell me how to contact the writer of this article?

Can you write a note to BearInsider or their staff?

Do I just make my thoughts felt theough the posts?
Bearprof
How long do you want to ignore this user?
You've heard of legacy admissions to elite universities. Welcome to legacy admissions to big NIL bucks. Off putting to say the least.

TravelingBear
How long do you want to ignore this user?
I appreciate that you, BI, put this out here for us to know. The timing could create some interesting drama, but this is the kind of insider info that we come here for.

I was nonplussed by the idea of Madsen being our coach. I was at Cal those years and got to see him up close and personal from Harmon and he annoyed me, for the obvious reasons of being a bit obnoxious and tenacious and playing for stanford. I did respect him as a player, he always made more out of less.

I was hoping that Montgomery was going to have a strong influence on the hire though, and if Monty is really behind him, that means a lot to me. I think Monty is a rare individual that can see the world in a realistic way, which makes him such a great coach, but not such a great recruiter.

That's not to say I wanted Monty to have more influence than the donors as a whole, that's a bit disheartening. All said though, here's to hoping Monty is right and he turns out to be a miracle worker, so much so that I can even forgive him for his time at Stanford. Whew, steepest hill in college basketball I expect!
GerryLopez
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Great job BearInsider this is really productive. I am sure other successful programs do not consult key contributors when making hires (Sarcasm)

You are ringing the bell because the process included a wide set of stakeholders that needed to take place in a short time.

WAKE UP and let success happen instead of stoking the next fricking conspiracy theory.
philbert
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Big C said:

^^^ I don't know if he's the top player, but he's the top earner... something to do with his name. ^^^
Correct. Made the edit. I have no idea who the top HS players are and frankly, don't really care.
dimitrig
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Pittstop said:

But WHY? Publicity? Marketing? Because, other than that, he's a freaking 6'2" guard who is not close to being a game changer (IMHO). I don't even believe that he's the best player on his HS team.


NIL is all about marketing so yes.

Cal Strong!
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Cal Strong been out of the loop for a few weeks. Cal basketball has been such an embarrassment for so long that Cal Strong just stopped checking in. He just assumed that our losing basketball coach would get a big extension out of Knowlton, just like our losing football coach did. So Cal Strong pleasantly surprised today to discover Knowlton fired Fox.

But here the thing: why we keep hiring furds? Chryst in football was bad, and Charmin Smith in WBB is absolutely terrible. Mike Montgomery was the high water march in terms of sloppy seconds with the furds. But in all fairness, Montgomery never made the Sweet 16 at Cal. He was a better coach when he was a furd.

Apart from being a furd, Mark Madsen is a very good hire. But Cal Strong would like to see him do some serious public penance for his former affiliation with stanfurd. At a bare minimum, Kevin Johnson should supervise him running stadium steps until he pukes and he should be forced to do bear crawls back and forth at least 20 times on the floor of Haas kissing Oski's feet each time he makes it back to the baseline.
southseasbear
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Cal Strong! said:

Cal Strong been out of the loop for a few weeks. Cal basketball has been such an embarrassment for so long that Cal Strong just stopped checking in. He just assumed that our losing basketball coach would get a big extension out of Knowlton, just like our losing football coach did. So Cal Strong pleasantly surprised today to discover Knowlton fired Fox.

But here the thing: why we keep hiring furds? Chryst in football was bad, and Charmin Smith in WBB is absolutely terrible. Mike Montgomery was the high water march in terms of sloppy seconds with the furds. But in all fairness, Montgomery never made the Sweet 16 at Cal. He was a better coach when he was a furd.

Apart from being a furd, Mark Madsen is a very good hire. But Cal Strong would like to see him do some serious public penance for his former affiliation with stanfurd. At a bare minimum, Kevin Johnson should supervise him running stadium steps until he pukes and he should be forced to do bear crawls back and forth at least 20 times on the floor of Haas kissing Oski's feet each time he makes it back to the baseline.
I would be happy seeing him wearing a blue tie and a Cal hat, high fiving Oski, waving to band, and shouting "Go Bears!"
Fire Knowlton!
Fire Fox!
Put Wilcox in a hot seat!
Cal Strong!
How long do you want to ignore this user?
southseasbear said:

Cal Strong! said:

Apart from being a furd, Mark Madsen is a very good hire. But Cal Strong would like to see him do some serious public penance for his former affiliation with stanfurd. At a bare minimum, Kevin Johnson should supervise him running stadium steps until he pukes and he should be forced to do bear crawls back and forth at least 20 times on the floor of Haas kissing Oski's feet each time he makes it back to the baseline.
I would be happy seeing him wearing a blue tie and a Cal hat, high fiving Oski, waving to band, and shouting "Go Bears!"
Cal Strong idea stronger than southseasbear idea.

The main reason Cal Athletics exists is to humiliate stanfurd. It no small thing to hire a furd. Changing a shirt and tie not enough.
Bobodeluxe
How long do you want to ignore this user?
59bear
How long do you want to ignore this user?
annarborbear said:

I would like to know the names of the donors who would only accept their own proposed candidate if they, in fact, insist on that.

Put your name on a building or create a scholarship fund in your name. But our coaching selections should not be for sale.
Why not/ The platers sure as hell are.
PappysBoy
How long do you want to ignore this user?
I've never quite understood the total affection for Montgomery from a large segment of Old Blues. Great coach, but one with a hard ceiling and not exactly a guy you'd ever want to hang with either. Aside from the fact that we're aligning our mortal rivals while repeatedly turning our backs on our own, my main issue with this hire is that like any Montgomery squad, the ceiling is capped. Cal basketball has always been at it's most exciting when the ceiling is high, even if we rarely reach that potential.
BulaBear3cubs
How long do you want to ignore this user?
I'm interested in knowing what the buyout terms will be for Madsen when furd comes calling next year.
Bobodeluxe
How long do you want to ignore this user?
BulaBear3cubs said:

I'm interested in knowing what the buyout terms will be for Madsen when furd comes calling next year.
After a Natty, their alumni would demand it.
dimitrig
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Bobodeluxe said:

BulaBear3cubs said:

I'm interested in knowing what the buyout terms will be for Madsen when furd comes calling next year.
After a Natty, their alumni would demand it.

Madsen will exclaim that the only reason he went to Stanford is that his preferred school, Cal, didn't offer him a scholarship for basketball.

Bobodeluxe
How long do you want to ignore this user?
HearstMining
How long do you want to ignore this user?
PappysBoy said:

I've never quite understood the total affection for Montgomery from a large segment of Old Blues. Great coach, but one with a hard ceiling and not exactly a guy you'd ever want to hang with either. Aside from the fact that we're aligning our mortal rivals while repeatedly turning our backs on our own, my main issue with this hire is that like any Montgomery squad, the ceiling is capped. Cal basketball has always been at it's most exciting when the ceiling is high, even if we rarely reach that potential.
Here's one reason: because every time Cal played Stanford with Braun and Montgomery coaching, I always thought, "If the game comes down to coaching, we're at a disadvantage". He was never a great recruiter - the Collins twins fell into his lap, if I recall, but recruiting wasn't as critical as it is today.

As far as turning our backs on our own, Pasternak was the only candidate with a Cal connection and that ended 15 years ago - he spent more time at Arizona than Cal. All I know about the guy is what I read on BI which becomes more of an echo chamber as the number of contributors declines. I wish there were more good candidates for the HC job with a real Cal connection, but none came out of the woodwork.

So, I sympathize with your sentiments, but I don't share them.
socaltownie
How long do you want to ignore this user?
HearstMining said:

PappysBoy said:

I've never quite understood the total affection for Montgomery from a large segment of Old Blues. Great coach, but one with a hard ceiling and not exactly a guy you'd ever want to hang with either. Aside from the fact that we're aligning our mortal rivals while repeatedly turning our backs on our own, my main issue with this hire is that like any Montgomery squad, the ceiling is capped. Cal basketball has always been at it's most exciting when the ceiling is high, even if we rarely reach that potential.
Here's one reason: because every time Cal played Stanford with Braun and Montgomery coaching, I always thought, "If the game comes down to coaching, we're at a disadvantage". He was never a great recruiter - the Collins twins fell into his lap, if I recall, but recruiting wasn't as critical as it is today.

As far as turning our backs on our own, Pasternak was the only candidate with a Cal connection and that ended 15 years ago - he spent more time at Arizona than Cal. All I know about the guy is what I read on BI which becomes more of an echo chamber as the number of contributors declines. I wish there were more good candidates for the HC job with a real Cal connection, but none came out of the woodwork.

So, I sympathize with your sentiments, but I don't share them.
Monty was a great coach but even at Furd he struggled with a key part of the sport - the way in whcih the tournament is called. Over and over we see during March the refs swallow their whistles. There also is barely enough time to scout (much less put in specific things to deal with match up advantages or tendencies). Monty was BRILLIANT at game planning and doing that against superiour pac12 foes. He would get our guys to their spots and drive their guys off theirs.

But you can't do that in the tournie. No time. And so over the course of his career he OFTEN was upset. He hated the Pac12 tournament for many smiliar reasons. And so while He was great at cal he always had that ceiling.
JimSox
How long do you want to ignore this user?
JimSox said:


Once he signs, I will contribute what little I can. I hope others will pony up as well. Especially the folks with the big bucks.
Okay. Made my itsy-bitsy, teeny weeny donation just now! Let's go. Pony up!!
dan1997
How long do you want to ignore this user?
HearstMining said:

PappysBoy said:

I've never quite understood the total affection for Montgomery from a large segment of Old Blues. Great coach, but one with a hard ceiling and not exactly a guy you'd ever want to hang with either. Aside from the fact that we're aligning our mortal rivals while repeatedly turning our backs on our own, my main issue with this hire is that like any Montgomery squad, the ceiling is capped. Cal basketball has always been at it's most exciting when the ceiling is high, even if we rarely reach that potential.
Here's one reason: because every time Cal played Stanford with Braun and Montgomery coaching, I always thought, "If the game comes down to coaching, we're at a disadvantage". He was never a great recruiter - the Collins twins fell into his lap, if I recall, but recruiting wasn't as critical as it is today.

As far as turning our backs on our own, Pasternak was the only candidate with a Cal connection and that ended 15 years ago - he spent more time at Arizona than Cal. All I know about the guy is what I read on BI which becomes more of an echo chamber as the number of contributors declines. I wish there were more good candidates for the HC job with a real Cal connection, but none came out of the woodwork.

So, I sympathize with your sentiments, but I don't share them.
He actually spent more time at Cal than Arizona. Pasternack was at Cal for 8 years total, 2 as Video Coordinator and 6 as Assistant Coach.
calumnus
How long do you want to ignore this user?
HearstMining said:

PappysBoy said:

I've never quite understood the total affection for Montgomery from a large segment of Old Blues. Great coach, but one with a hard ceiling and not exactly a guy you'd ever want to hang with either. Aside from the fact that we're aligning our mortal rivals while repeatedly turning our backs on our own, my main issue with this hire is that like any Montgomery squad, the ceiling is capped. Cal basketball has always been at it's most exciting when the ceiling is high, even if we rarely reach that potential.
Here's one reason: because every time Cal played Stanford with Braun and Montgomery coaching, I always thought, "If the game comes down to coaching, we're at a disadvantage". He was never a great recruiter - the Collins twins fell into his lap, if I recall, but recruiting wasn't as critical as it is today.

As far as turning our backs on our own, Pasternak was the only candidate with a Cal connection and that ended 15 years ago - he spent more time at Arizona than Cal. All I know about the guy is what I read on BI which becomes more of an echo chamber as the number of contributors declines. I wish there were more good candidates for the HC job with a real Cal connection, but none came out of the woodwork.

So, I sympathize with your sentiments, but I don't share them.


Many of us thought Fox should have been fired last year (or the year before) and Dennis Gates hired.

Shantay Legans is a Cal alumnus. Pasternack and DeCuire coached heere. Amir Abdul/Rahim attended his brother's games and more recently his graduation on our campus. Luke Walton's grandfather went to Cal. Moreover, there is a huge gulf of "not a Cal guy" and is "a Stanford guy."

Mark Madsen is a good person and a good coach. That was all Knowlton needed to know, but Knowlton still does not understand Cal and has no clue what will succeed in Berkeley.

Montgomery was a dinosaur 10 years ago. He hates NIL, he has no idea what it will take to succeed in the new world. Or maybe he does, but it is the things and people that he despises. People like Joe Pasternack.

My hope is Madsen will be our Ted Lasso. I also hope that Knowlton is ousted, Sam Jackson and Jadyn Ott are both Heisman contenders and Wilcox's defense returns and we get invited to the Big 10.
Refresh
Page 1 of 1
 
×
subscribe Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.