BERKELEY -- UC Berkeley has not always made academics a priority on its sports teams -- and that must change, the campus's new chancellor said in a video address released Wednesday.

Part news digest, part holiday greeting card, the address by Chancellor Nicholas Dirks highlighted some of the campus's proudest moments in his six months at Berkeley -- and acknowledged a shameful one, the lowest NCAA graduation rate of any major college football team.

Cal's latest football graduation rate, a four-year average, is 44 percent.

"Although some recent press coverage has largely ignored the academic accomplishments of our student athletes as a whole, as well as the significant improvement evident in the football team's most recent metrics, it is clear that we still have serious work to do," Dirks said.

After weeks of critical news coverage in the Bay Area, Cal's public relations arm promoted some more promising data points: A 65 percent graduation rate for football players who started in 2007, and an estimated 85 percent of the team being on track to graduate.

Dirks and others, including Athletic Director Sandy Barbour, have acknowledged that the team's emphasis on academics is a departure from recent years.

"The fact is that we have not always maintained a clear focus on our academic priorities, and we have a shared responsibility to ensure that does not happen again," Dirks said.

"While I believe that our university benefits greatly from a robust intercollegiate athletics program, I categorically reject the idea that success in athletic and academic arenas are somehow inherently incompatible," he said.

"I will do whatever is necessary to make sure that our rhetoric is matched by our performance, and I mean here academic performance, without which our athletics accomplishments are hollow."

Perhaps in keeping with the campus's renewed focus on academics, the new chancellor skipped the details of the team's on-field performance this season -- 11 losses and one win.

Dirks' video is posted at http://bit.ly/19kQOw2

Follow Katy Murphy at Twitter.com/katymurphy.