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Penn State Names Ex-Cal AD Sandy Barbour as New Athletic Director

by on July 26, 2014 12:00 PM

Penn State has named former Cal Berkeley athletic director Sandy Barbour to succeed Dave Joyner as Penn State’s next AD.

Barbour, who resigned on June 27, was athletic director at Cal since September 2004. She will be Penn State’s first woman athletic director.

Her appointment was the first major personnel hire by Eric Barron, who succeeded Rod Erickson as Penn State’s president in May. She starts as athletic director on Aug. 18.

"We are Penn State. I am all in and ready to get going," Barbour said during a press conference at Beaver Stadium.

"National championships are our goal and daily we will set our course with that outcome in mind. ... Our student-athletes will be students first."

Barbour, 54, was a deputy and then associate athletic director at Notre Dame from 2000-04, an associate AD at Northwestern and Tulane's AD in 1996.

She met with new Penn State head football James Franklin coach Saturday morning and "we really hit it off... James and I already did a little work this morning."

As the field hockey coach at Northwestern, Barbour was at Penn State several times. She also was on campus to visit Beaver Stadium when Cal was planning a stadium renovation, as well as when the Cal women's basketball was at University Park to play in the NCAA tournament.

Joyner was named Penn State’s acting athletic director on Nov. 16, 2011, after the AD at the time, Tim Curley, went on administrative leave in the wake of the Sandusky scandal. The acting tag was removed on Jan. 21, 2013. Joyner announced on June 17 that he was stepping down, with plans to leave the university on Aug. 1. He will stay in the AD role until Aug. 17 and remain as as a consultant after that.

Her salary will be $700,000 annually, with a $100,000 retention bonus. She will have bonus clauses as well -- one-third based on student performances, two-thirds for on-the-field performances. Barron said her base salary places her fifth among Big Ten athletic directors. Joyner's salary was $396,000. According to USA Today, in 2013 the average salary for a Big Ten AD was $709,000.

Barbour said she was in favor of compensating student-athletes "to the cost of attendance," but was against unionization.


Barbour left Cal under some controversy.

In October 2013, Cal’s football program was reported as having the worst graduation rate among the 72 major-conference universities and the men's basketball program as having the worst graduation rate among Pac-12 schools.

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When the report was released, she said, “Ultimately, it is my responsibility."

On Saturday, Barron said he discussed that with Cal's chancellor and was she satisfied with Barbour's role in those reports. Barron cited budget cuts,which reduced the number of Cal's academic athletics adviser, as having a role in those graduation rates.

Unacceptable," Barbour replied Saturday when asked about the poor graduation rates at Cal. "It was a combination of a number of things. I learned some things from that situation that wiil benefit Penn State."

She said he learned "what kind of pressure, what kind of autonomy you provide... The athlete director has to set the right vision, the right message."

Suhe directed the renovation of the school’s antiquated Memorial Stadium and the construction of a state-of-the-art athletic performance center. Those moves resulted in a debt that was estimated at $445 million last summer.

Cal’s football team had only one victory in 2013 under first-year head coach Sonny Dykes, who succeeded longtime coach Jeff Tedford. In December 2012, Barbour hired Sonny Dykes to five-year, $9.7 million contract. Cal had a 3-9 record in 2012 under Tedford.

In September 2010, Barbour announced plans to drop varsity teams in baseball, women's lacrosse and men's and women's gymnastics, although that decision was later rescinded. She oversaw 30 varsity teams at Cal.

Cal’s men’s basketball team has played in the postseason in each of the past six seasons, while the women’s basketball team has been to the NCAA tournament the past three years.

The following is from Barbour’s official bio on the Cal website:

“Barbour's career in intercollegiate athletic administration spans more than 30 years, beginning as a field hockey assistant coach and lacrosse administrative assistant at the University of Massachusetts in 1981. She has since served as assistant athletic director at Northwestern and in 1991 was recruited to Tulane as an associate athletic director.

“In 1996, Barbour was appointed Tulane's director of athletics at age 36, and during her three years overseeing the program, Green Wave teams won 12 conference championships. In her first year in the position, the school captured four conference titles, a feat never before accomplished in Tulane history. She also hired Tommy Bowden as head football coach during her first year. Bowden proceeded in 1997 to post the Green Wave's first winning season (7-4) in 16 years, and then directed the school to a 12-0 record, a Conference USA championship and a No. 7 national ranking the following season as the 1998 Liberty Bowl champions.

“In her position at Notre Dame, Barbour oversaw facilities and event operations for the school's 26-sport program, including football game management and the department's two golf courses. She was also responsible for developing, maintaining and implementing Notre Dame's $127 million athletics facilities master plan.

“Additionally, her role at Notre Dame included responsibilities for women's lacrosse, men's and women's cross country, indoor and outdoor track, men's and women's swimming and men's golf. She also assisted with the administration of women's basketball.

“Born Dec. 2, 1959, in Annapolis, Md., Barbour grew up in a military family. Her father was a career aviator in the U.S. Navy, and her family lived in various U.S. locations as well as in Western Europe during her childhood.

“Barbour graduated cum laude in 1981 with a B.S. degree in physical education from Wake Forest, where she was a four-year letterwinner and served as captain of the field hockey team. She also played two varsity seasons of women's basketball.

“Barbour earned advanced degrees at both Massachusetts (an M.S. in sports management in 1983) and Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management (an MBA in 1991).

“Between master's programs, Barbour served as assistant field hockey and lacrosse coach at Northwestern from 1982-84. She also held the position of director of recruiting services during that period, before being promoted to assistant athletic director for intercollegiate programs in 1984, a position she held until 1989.

“Prior to joining Tulane, Barbour worked in programming and production for FOX Sports Net in Chicago during the summer of 1990.”

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Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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