BERKELEY -- Saying she "wouldn't trade one minute of the last 10 years," Sandy Barbour officially stepped down as Cal's athletic director Friday.

Barbour's departure comes at what she described as an "intersection" for her and the university "where it's time to find out what's next." It followed six months of discussions with chancellor Nicholas Dirks, who is wrapping up his first year on the job and will lead the search for Barbour's replacement.

"Given the challenges and opportunities that lie before us," Dirks said, "we believe our university will benefit from leadership that can provide new energy and a fresh perspective."

Sandy Barbour, Director of Athletics talks about the career of Coach Mike Montgomery during a Cal men’s basketball news conference to announce his
Sandy Barbour, Director of Athletics talks about the career of Coach Mike Montgomery during a Cal men's basketball news conference to announce his retirement at Haas Pavilion on the Cal campus, Monday, March 31, 2014, in Berkeley, Calif. (Susan Tripp Pollard/Bay Area News Group)

Dirks declined to provide details on the search, which is expected to take months. Cal has not yet decided whether to employ an executive placement firm, according to a senior administration official.

Dirks named H. Michael Williams, a former Cal wrestler, as the interim athletic director. Williams has been a Cal trustee since 2007 and is a member of the Chancellor's Task Force on Academics and Athletics. He was an executive at Barclays Global Investors until retiring a few years ago.

"We share a lot of the same values," said Barbour, who added that Williams would take appropriate care of "my baby."

If Williams has specific goals for his tenure -- he is not expected to be a candidate for the permanent job -- he declined to get specific at a news conference Friday.


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But he hinted at his love for collegiate athletics, calling the student-athletes "the most visible ambassadors of the Cal community," and he praised Barbour for making "the exceptional the expected."

During Barbour's decade at the helm, Cal won 19 national team championships, a Pac-12 co-championship in football, and the women's basketball team made its first trip to the Final Four. The school also renovated Memorial Stadium and built a first-class training center.

But the Bears experienced a series of setbacks in recent years, including poor academic performance and budget issues that nearly forced the school to eliminate sports, including baseball.

"I came to Cal 10 years ago to be a part of a program that espoused to have it all," Barbour said. "And we've certainly pursued it all.

"We've had our ups and downs, but the ups far outweigh the downs."

Barbour, 54, who is affectionately known as "boss lady" to Cal athletes, will remain at the school and develop a sports management program through UC Extension.

"Anytime I would go anywhere nationally," women's basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb said, "coaches and athletic directors seek me out to tell me how lucky I was to work for Sandy."