IOWA CITY — For the first time in nearly two decades, the University of Iowa will seek new leadership at the top of its Hawkeye athletics department.
Gary Barta, 59, director of athletics since August 2006, whose tenure has seen four NCAA team titles, 27 Big Ten Conference team titles, $380 million in upgrades and building sports facilities and $650 million in private support for athletics — and other accolades — announced his retirement Friday.
Barta’s retirement takes effect August 1, although his contract was not due to expire until June 2024. He earned an estimated $1.2 million in fiscal 2022, according to the Employee Salary Database. the state. UI is expected to hire an interim athletic director next week.
Under Barta’s retirement agreement, the university will pay him his “current base salary, deferred compensation and all applicable academic benefits for the duration of his employment.” He will also receive compensation for unused leave and sick leave.
The UI has agreed to also provide health insurance for Barta and his wife until September 4, 2028.
The deal also opens the door for him to seek employment elsewhere, waiving a future 12-month employment restriction and 120-day notice requirement in his contract. If he became eligible for health insurance elsewhere, unemployment insurance would no longer pay.
Barta did not make a public appearance to announce his departure, but said in a statement that his retirement “did not come suddenly, or without significant reflection, discussion and prayer.”
“After some thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s never a good time to step away…because there’s always more to do,” he said. “Having said that, I’m confident this is the right time for me and my family.”
Friday’s announcement marked a significant contrast to when Barta said earlier this year he had “no consideration” for retirement.
“When President (Barbara) Wilson started, I told her I had no intention of going anywhere,” Barta told The Gazette after a February 28 presidential athletics committee meeting. . “If she accepts me, we will continue.”
Regarding his contract which will expire next year, Barta said he was ‘not too worried about it’.
“I’ve been here for 17 years,” he said then.
During Barta’s tenure, the state settled more than $11 million in legal settlements over gender and racial discrimination in the athletics department he oversaw. Last month, Democratic State Auditor Rob Sand voted against settling a soccer discrimination lawsuit as long as Barta remained in office. UI Athletics later agreed to cover $2 million of the more than $4 million football discrimination settlement.
In a statement Friday, Sand said “Gary Barta’s departure is a long time coming.”
“Discrimination demands accountability,” the auditor said in a statement. “The University of Iowa should publicly release any terms of his departure.”
Controversies under Bart’s leadership include the discrimination lawsuits that resulted in a $6.5 million settlement for former field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum and associate athletic director Jane Meyer; a $4.2 million settlement for former football players alleging racial discrimination; and a $200,000 settlement for former assistant track coach Michael Scott.
IU also had to pay $400,000, reinstate women’s swimming and diving and add women’s wrestling as part of a Title IX settlement after Barta attempted to cut four sports during COVID-19. Men’s gymnastics, tennis, swimming and diving remained on the chopping block.
Also under Barta’s tenure, more than 55 former players made allegations of a culture of racism and bullying in the football program years earlier, with former manager Chris Doyle at the center of many of them. them.
And more recently, 26 current athletes and one full-time staff member are included in a sports betting survey.
Highlights of Barta’s tenure include the Iowa national platform, facility improvements and success on the field.
He was an influential voice in the national college sports landscape during his time at Iowa City, with stints as chairman of the college football playoff committee and on the NCAA Division I board.
Barta also oversaw facility upgrades for soccer, wrestling, soccer, rowing and other sports which totaled over $380 million.
Women’s basketball just finished second nationally and has won multiple regular season or Big Ten tournament titles. Football has won two Big Ten West titles.
Men’s basketball won a Big Ten tournament title in 2022 and has four straight March Madness appearances (excluding 2020 when there was no tournament due to COVID-19) for the first time since 1984 -89.
“Much of the success of our program is a direct result of Gary’s vision to improve the Carver-Hawkeye Arena,” men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery said in a statement.
Men’s wrestling has had 13 NCAA individual champions and four NCAA tag team titles. Iowa’s Lisa Cellucci is the only field hockey head coach to lead teams to the national quarterfinals in the past four years.
However, many of the head coaches behind that success arrived in Iowa under former athletic directors. Women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder was one of Christine Grant’s last recruits in 2000. Bob Bowlsby named football coach Kirk Ferentz in 1998 and men’s wrestling coach Tom Brands in 2006.
Barta’s 17-year tenure is one of the longest for Power Five athletic directors and the longest in Iowa since Grant served as Iowa’s women’s athletic director for 27 years until 2000.
“Gary’s accomplishments at the University of Iowa are significant, and our coaches and student-athletes have enjoyed tremendous success on and off the field during his tenure,” UI President Wilson said in a statement. communicated. “I am grateful for his leadership as Hawkeye and wish him well in retirement.”