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James Knowlton

Athletic Director, University of California

Jim Knowlton, who has established himself as a dynamic leader and accomplished administrator through service in intercollegiate athletics and the U.S. Army, is in his second year as Director of Athletics at Cal after formally moving into the role on May 21, 2018.

Knowlton served as AD at Air Force for three years before to his move to Berkeley, and he previously spent seven years overseeing the athletic department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he was named the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Athletic Director of the Year.

Throughout his career, Knowlton has focused on and successfully fostered programs that place a premium on leadership and character development among student-athletes, coaches and staff. He has demonstrated an unfailing commitment to high achievement, both in academics and athletics, has a proven track record as a fundraiser, and has shown a consistent ability to take on complex challenges and develop strategic solutions to meet them.

At Cal, Knowlton is the school's 24th director of athletics and oversees an athletics program that sponsors 30 sports and supports more than 850 student-athletes.

During his first year in Berkeley in 2018-19, Knowlton embarked on a number of initiatives across many different areas, from academics and athletic performance to gender equity, budget and culture. Prominently among them was his Listening Days plan for all 30 teams and 15 administrative units. After a set period of discussion and analysis, priorities were determined for each program for implementation in an efficient and deliberate manner, all with a goal to move Cal Athletics, using his words, from good to great.

Knowlton also oversaw the development of a mission, vision and strategic plan for the athletic department, a nearly year-long collaborative process announced in August of 2019. Other areas of focus have included enhancing student-athlete development and experience (including the creation of the innovative Cameron Institute), increasing campus integration, developing a sustainable financial model, creating a plan to ensure long-term gender equity, and building a robust fundraising operation with increased engagement with alumni and supporters.

Wednesday, December 11

OPENING REMARKS

What Keeps You Up at Night?

Leaders in intercollegiate athletics answer the question everyone wants answered. You will hear from top administrators on the economic realities of running an athletic program, how to best manage the incredible growth of college sports and dealing with the intense scrutiny that comes with the visible nature of their position.          

James Knowlton, Athletic Director, University of California
Patrick Kraft, Athletic Director, Temple University
Warde Manuel, Athletic Director, University of Michigan