Cal Athletic Director Resigns

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Cal Athletic Director John Kasser announced yesterday that he will resign at the end of December to pursue a new position with the Pac-10 Conference, leaving the university without one of its top administrators.

Kasser, who has served as athletic director for seven years, accepted a job as Executive Director of Pac-10 Properties.

"I had the opportunity to come to Cal, and it's something that I've never, ever regretted," Kasser said. "When I was making these decisions to move on to this next project, that was very, very difficult. This isn't a decision that was just made in the last week or two. This has actually been in the works for about six months."

Associate Athletic Director Robert Driscoll will act as the interim athletic director until the search to fill the vacated position is complete. According to UC Berkeley officials, Driscoll is a candidate for the permanent position.

"I know that everything I do over the next four to six months will be judged that much closer," Driscoll said.

A committee will be formed to conduct a national search for a new athletic director, said Horace Mitchell, UC Berkeley's vice chancellor for business and administrative services. Kasser will consult with the university on the hiring decision.

University officials said the search could take anywhere from one to six months.

At yesterday's press conference in the Haas Pavilion Club Room, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl paid tribute to, among other things, the work Kasser did in transforming Harmon Gym into Haas Pavilion.

"If you seek his monument, look about you," Berdahl said.

A crowd of reporters and an even larger crowd of staff, coaches and athletes were in attendance at the press conference, as was Kasser's wife Carol.

"When I leave in the morning, Carol says, 'What do we have tonight?'" said Kasser of the lifestyle that had him out nearly every night drumming up support for the program.

"He's been a great leader for our department," said Chris Dawson, Cal's associate athletic director and senior women's administrator. "I'm going to miss working with him on a day-to-day basis. I always felt that I could voice my opinion with him."

Kasser's biggest legacy will indeed be the $60 million renovation of Haas, home to the men's and women's basketball teams, as well as many of the athletic department's administrative offices.

The athletic director also oversaw expansion of Cal's intercollegiate sports programs. During his tenure, Kasser added three women's varsity sports - water polo, lacrosse and golf.

Kasser's impact has also been felt on Cal's sidelines, where he has hired 14 new head coaches for Cal's 27 varsity sports.

"I really liked him - he was definitely a coach's A.D.," said women's basketball coach Caren Horstmeyer, who Kasser hired in April.

Haas was not the only athletic facility Kasser improved. Edwards Stadium/Goldman Field, home to the track and soccer teams, was recently given a successful face-lift.

During his years of work as an athletic administrator and in other fields, Kasser established a reputation as a tireless fundraiser. He has raised $100 million in donations during his time at Cal.

Kasser, 63, took over for former Athletic Director Bob Bockrath on Jan. 17, 1994, after a three-month search.

Kasser came to Cal from UC Santa Barbara, where he was athletic director from 1989-93.

"When I came to Cal seven years ago, I thought I was at Santa Barbara for the rest of my life, on the beach at a great UC university," Kasser said.

A native of California, Kasser played baseball and basketball at Pepperdine University in the 1950s. Before moving into athletic administration, he spent time as a coach and also worked in automobile sales.

In his new job, Kasser will oversee the licensing and marketing portion of the Pac-10. Created four years ago, Pac-10 Properties is a joint venture between the conference and Fox Sports Net. Kasser will be in charge of marketing the new postseason Pac-10 basketball tournaments, which will start in 2002.

"I've had a lot of opportunities in my life to take advantage of, and this is one of them," he said.

Driscoll will temporarily begin running the department when Kasser's resignation becomes effective at the end of December.

"What many of you don't realize, if you've had the chance to work with this man and his wonderful wife, is he's really created a culture here that is based on love and respect for each other," Driscoll said. "I've had the great fortune to work with one of the great athletic administrators of all times."


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