Justin Wilcox Signs Extension Through 2027 Season
BERKELEY – Travers Family Head Football Coach Justin Wilcox has signed a contract extension that will keep him with the Cal program through the 2027 season and increases the salary pool for assistant coaches.
"Justin Wilcox is a football coach who shares our values and vision, and we want to ensure that he is the leader of our program for the long term," Cal Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton said. "He is a great fit for Cal Athletics and our university, with a philosophy that places an emphasis on developing young men on the field, in the classroom and as people. I am confident our fans and alumni share my enthusiasm for the direction of our program, and the level of success we have seen to date has set a foundation for sustained excellence in the future."
Wilcox has compiled a long list of accomplishments and recorded several signature wins in his first five campaigns at Cal, including leading the program to back-to-back winning seasons and bowl games in 2018 and 2019 for the first time in a decade. Cal finished the 2019 campaign with an 8-5 record that included a victory in the Big Game at Stanford and a Redbox Bowl win over Illinois to close the year. The Bears captured the Axe again this year with a 41-11 victory at Stanford in November and completed the season with a 24-14 win over USC as part of a 4-2 record in the second half of the campaign.
"I appreciate the opportunity to be the head football coach at Cal and am excited about the future of our program," Wilcox said. "I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute I have spent with the extraordinary young men who have been in our program. We are in a great position and strongly aligned with our university thanks to the leadership of Chancellor Carol Christ and Jim Knowlton. I thank both of them for their continued trust and confidence in me to lead a football program that will make the entire Cal community proud. We have very high expectations. I think we've earned the right to expect more, and that's exactly what we're going to do."
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic limiting the 2020 campaign to four games, the Bears increased their numbers of wins over each of Wilcox's first three seasons, including a perfect 9-0 record in regular-season non-conference games, with four of the victories against Power 5 schools. During those three years, Cal defeated a Top-15 team each season and won games at USC, Washington, UCLA and Stanford.
The Bears earned a spot in the Cheez-It Bowl in 2018 and followed that with a 35-20 victory over Illinois in the 2019 Redbox Bowl.
"Since the beginning of his tenure, I have been impressed by Justin Wilcox's leadership, and his commitment to enabling our student-athletes to take full advantage of the academic and athletic opportunities we offer," Christ said. "He is, in my opinion, the quintessential Berkeley coach who understands the university's values, as well as the value his program brings to the campus as a rallying point for Cal's global community. College football is a highly competitive environment, and the investment represented in Justin's new contract is commensurate with all that I know he will contribute to our university in the years ahead."
Under Wilcox's leadership, the Cal football program has achieved notable levels of success not only on the field, but also in the classroom and the community.
In the classroom, the program announced its highest Graduation Success Rate ever at 84 percent, according to data released by the NCAA in December. During Wilcox's tenure, Cal has also recorded its top score in the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate and highest team grade-point average. In addition, 29 Golden Bears were named to the 2020 Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll last fall, the highest number for a season in program history.
Fan support for the Bears has also increased since Wilcox took over his leading role. Student attendance nearly doubled from 2017 to 2018, and student ticket purchases were higher in 2021 than they had been in the past 10 years. In addition, Cal fans had a 95% season-ticket renewal rate for 2020 as compared to the 2019 campaign.
Several significant gifts have also recently benefited the Cal football program. Former Golden Bear quarterback and 2020 NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers made a seven-figure gift in 2019 to renovate the football locker room and create the Aaron Rodgers Football Scholarship. Within the past year, the Travers Family committed $7.5 million to endow the Travers Family Head Football Coach position, and Paul White contributed $1.5 million to fund the Paul F. White Innovation and Wellness Center. Cal Athletics also announced the Championship CALiber initiative this past December to provide additional support for the Golden Bear football program.