Tien's Passion for Cal Unmatched

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In Chang-Lin Tien, UC Berkeley had not only a champion of academic success, but a devoted Cal sports fan.

Whether it was cheering on the Bears at even the least-attended events, shooting hoops with Jason Kidd or dreaming of an ever-elusive Rose Bowl appearance, Tien was the Bears' number one fan.

"I'll never forget him standing by the goalpost with his Cal hat on, waiting for the extra point," said former Cal football coach Steve Mariucci, who is now the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. "He was so energetic about everything he was involved in."

Other former coaches had similar memories.

"He gave his all at every event," former football coach Tom Holmoe said yesterday. "There's not too many people at a university that can say they really knew the chancellor, but there's a lot of people at Cal who can say 'Yeah, I knew the chancellor.' That's special."

Tien was a frequent visitor to the locker room, as Holmoe, now an associate athletic director at Brigham Young University, recalled in one incident early in his tenure at Cal where the Bears were down at halftime.

"I was ripping into this group of players hard-steam was coming out of my ears," Holmoe said. "I was spitting and everything. I turned around and there was Tien, in the locker room. He's looking at me and I'm looking at him like 'Oh my goodness, what have I done.'"

And the chancellor's reaction? "He looks straight at me and goes 'Go Bears.'"

Jack Citrin, a political science professor who was Cal's faculty representative under Tien, said the chancellor's dedication to Cal sports was remarkable.

"I don't consider myself easily impressed, but I was impressed with him from day one," Citrin said. "I remember watching him come and sit for half an hour for a seemingly inconsequential tennis match. He didn't just talk about things-he did things."

Citrin said he remembers attending a "painfully boring" NCAA conference with Tien where speeches seemed to go on forever. At one point, Citrin looked over to see Tien working on a scientific paper he was about to present.

"He said to me 'I'm gonna work on this, but make sure that I do the right thing when it comes to voting,'" Citrin said. "He always wanted to make sure that we voted for academic standards and essentially for the concept that you could be both a student and an athlete."

Tien was a familiar face on the sidelines at many Cal sporting events, but was perhaps most excited by basketball.

"My American dream was always to go to the NBA," Tien told The Daily Californian in 1996. "After I graduated from college, my height didn't change and being 5-foot-6, I realized I might not be able to overcome that disadvantage. That's how I became a fan."

Then there was Kidd. When the future NBA star was at Cal, Tien once practiced with him, calling it one of the best perks of his job.

The Kidd experience was something he never forgot, according to Cal basketball coach Ben Braun.

"He always proclaimed that if I ran out of players to call him because he said he could beat Jason Kidd in one-on-one," Braun said. "He was supportive of Cal Athletics and always seemed to have his Cal hat on."

Tien's dedication to Cal was indicative of his larger love of the university. Even after he retired, he would appear at Big Game bonfires.

"He loved Cal, and everywhere he went he promoted Cal," Braun said. "We're going to miss him."


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