The spring semester started at the University of California the week before the Arizona Intercollegiate, which presented a problem for two of the top players on the Bears’ No. 1-ranked men’s golf team.
Brandon Hagy and Joël Stalter wanted to take an improvisation and leadership course, offered through the Haas School of Business. They attended the first week of the classes but couldn’t make the first class of the second week because they were at The Golf Club of Vistoso in Tucson, trying to help the Bears to their sixth team victory in six starts.
Students who miss any of the improvisation and leadership classes in the first three weeks of the semester are automatically dropped. The Cal coach, Steve Desimone, whose career has been a case study in improvisation and leadership, sent an e-mail appeal to the professor to make an exception for Hagy and Stalter, to no avail.
For the better part of four decades, Desimone has been devoted to putting the student back in student-athlete. He has succeeded at Cal despite receiving no direct funding from the university, turning the lack of financial support into a golden opportunity to fix a college model he considered broken.