During his days as a student at Cal, Michael Williams considered it a special coup that he knew someone with keys to old Harmon Gym, allowing him and his friends to play late-night pickup basketball.
As interim athletic director at Cal, Williams, 53, is now that guy.
“When I went up to Memorial Stadium and I had a pass that opened the football offices, it was unbelievable,” Williams said Wednesday during his first media interview since being given the keys to operate Cal’s entire athletic department.
“There are elements of this that are just a dream job,” said Williams, a former Cal wrestler now retired from a successful career in investment management. “When you think about it as a fan, I get to talk to all the coaches whenever I want. And I get to interact with the student-athletes.”
A resident of Lafayette, married with three children, Williams officially began his job Wednesday as interim replacement for Sandy Barbour, moved to a different position on campus by Chancellor Nicholas Dirks.
But Williams actually has been at work for about three weeks now, not counting volunteer assignments that include serving as a trustee for the U.C. Berkeley Foundation, working on the chancellor’s Task Force for Academic and Athletics and on the search committee for a new provost.
Dirks said Williams was the only person he asked to take this assignment, which could last close to a year. “He’s somebody for whom it was a natural,” said Dirks, explaining that he will rely on Williams’ input as he conducts the search for Cal’s next permanent athletic director.