In a surprise announcement, Cal Athletic Director John Kasser resigned from his post Thursday to become the executive director of Pac-10 Properties.
Kasser will leave the athletic department at the end of December for the joint venture between the Pac-10 conference and Fox Sports, created four years ago to help promote the conference’s athletic departments. He will oversee all of the conference’s licensing and marketing efforts, including the new Pac-10 basketball tournaments, to begin in 2002.
“This was not a decision that was made in the last two weeks,” Kasser said at a press conference Thursday. “This has been in the works for the past six months. I’m leaving for a position where I can help all of the Pac-10 schools.”
Kasser leaves Cal after seven years as athletic director. He was responsible for the hiring of 14 of Cal’s 27 coaches, and helped raise more than $100 million in donations. He oversaw the construction of the Haas Pavilion, opened last year, as well as the renovation of several other facilities, including Edwards Stadium.
“I’m leaving feeling very good about where we are in the athletic department,” he said. “I still will be a Golden Bear at heart.”
Cal Chancellor Robert Berdahl announced that he has appointed current Associate Athletic Director Robert Driscoll as the Acting Athletic Director. Berdahl said he would begin a nationwide search for a permanent replacement immediately, although he gave no timetable for filling the position. He indicated that Driscoll would be considered for the permanent position.
“This is a sad moment for us at Cal,” Berdahl said. “John has been a key to the department’s success, and will be looked back upon as one of the marks of pride for the athletic department.”
Berdahl said that despite Kasser’s depiction of football head coach Tom Holmoe as “my guy” doesn’t mean Holmoe will be leaving with Kasser.
“We’re committed to Tom Holmoe, and we’re confident we’ll have a successful program next year,” Berdahl said.
Kasser had stated in the past that “as long as I’m at Cal, Tom Holmoe will be the football coach.”
Berdahl also said the new athletic director, whomever the choice may be, will not have the opportunity to replace Holmoe before next season.
“Whoever comes in will have a coaching staff in place,” he said.
Vice Chancellor Horace Mitchell, who worked closely with Kasser, said he leaves a strong legacy.
“John brought some tremendous energy and enthusiasm to Cal, and he brought in coaches who represent the values of Cal,” Mitchell said. “He also instilled a philosophy that is student-centered, and that’s something we strive for.”
Mitchell joined Berdahl in his vehement support of Holmoe.
“The committment to Tom that John expressed is an institutional committment,” he said. “It doesn’t end with John leaving.”
Driscoll, who has been an administrator at Cal for 14 years, was enthusiastic about his new, if temporary, position.
“Having the opportunity to lead this department for the next few months is a dream come true for me,” he said. “I’m going to continue to do the things that John set forth for us.”
Among the projects on the department’s slate is the seismic retrofitting of Memorial Stadium. Berdahl said Kasser’s resignation would have no effect on the project’s timeframe.