“I think Jim was on the flight pattern. He had done some really good things at Army and RPI and I think we grew and got better here. Obviously the next step is a Power Five program and conference.”
DAVE PILIPOVICH, Air Force men’s basketball coach
Tremendous integrity. Just him and (wife) Corey, just great people and first-class representatives. … Top-shelf human being.
TROY CALHOUN, Air Force football coach
“Jim’s knowledge and his experience of what an academy is and how an academy operates enabled him to hit the ground running. There was a small learning curve with that hire. … He was a leader and he led from the front. I mean, the guy was an Army Ranger. His attention to detail was great. He did a great job for us. He’s leaving us better than he found us, there’s no question about it.”
FRANK SERRATORE, Air Force hockey coach
“He allowed us to hire good people and supported us very well financially. He was behind us 100 percent, and that’s hugely important. When you’re allowed to do your job and supported in the decisions that you make and encouraged to go for it, to do what you have to do to get it there, that’s what you want more than anything. You just want that kind of support, and that’s what he gave us. It’s a hard job. I thought he had a really hard job. I’ve always said – and I used to say this when I was at Yale – that there’s only 11 schools in the country that really do treat academics and athletics equally in Division I, and that’s the three service academies and the Ivy League. Any leader in those institutions has an incredible job to tie those two elements together, and then you add the military aspect here. So that person has to be able to navigate between those worlds very well. I knew Jim had that on top of everything else. It’s a really hard job, because you are trying to stay true to more than one mission.”
CHRIS GOBRECHT, Air Force women’s basketball coach
“He has given me and this program an opportunity to grow, and I truly appreciate that because the way the landscape is in college athletics you never know; change sometimes is more frequent than not. I truly appreciate what he has allowed us to do.”
PILIPOVICH, who received a three-year deal from Knowlton prior to this past season
“The thing that’s just blatantly obvious is that with the candidate pool, there’s just some things you’ve got to do. First of all, salary-wise, to make the candidate pool extremely attractive it better be at least a $400,000- to $500,000-a-year job. There will be some sticker shock, perhaps for some, but those are the realities of the market, the forces at play. We’ll find out institutionally, but that’s the kind of commitment it’s going to take annually if you’re serious about athletics. The other part, the candidates have to include someone who’s been very, very involved in intercollegiate athletics, especially as much as it’s changed over the past 15 years. Those have to be musts. College athletics are quite a bit different from what it was two decades ago. Two decades ago you probably would have been OK having someone who was working in missiles or overseeing a maintenance squadron, where now there’s some background and experiences where this has been their profession. I just don’t know you could go hire someone who has been overseeing an LLC or a banker, I just think that would be a mistake institutionally. We’re all aware of that.”
CALHOUN, on the next step for Air Force. Terms of Knowlton’s deal were not immediately announced, nor has Air Force made public his salary. To give an idea of the money at play, Knowlton was hired when Air Force advertised a base salary of $167,000 for the position. At California, he replaces Mike Williams, who in 2016 earned gross pay of $707,900.