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Gary Barta announces retirement from University of Iowa Athletics

Barta, one of the longest-tenured Power 5 conference athletic directors, will retire on Aug. 1.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Editor's note: The video above is from April 14. 

The University of Iowa Department of Athletics announced Friday that its leader will be retiring from his position after 17 years with the Hawkeyes.

Gary Barta's last day will be Aug. 1. An interim athletics director will be announced next week. 

Barta began his career with the Hawkeyes back in 2006 after holding a similar position with the University of Wyoming. Under his leadership, several teams at the university achieved many successes: 

  • Four NCAA titles.
  • 27 Big Ten Conference team titles.
  • "Numerous" individual Big Ten titles.
  • Nearly 500 All-American honorees.
  • More than 160 student-athletes were recognized as first-team All-Big Ten.
  • Multiple national player of the year award winners.
  • Big Ten player of the year recipients.
  • Coach of the year recognition.
  • And more!

The following is the full statement from Barta: 

“It has been an absolute privilege and honor to serve in this role the past 17 years I’m humbled to have worked beside, and on behalf of, so many student-athletes, coaches, staff, donors, fans, and community leaders over the past two decades. The success enjoyed by our student-athletes and coaches during my entire tenure, and especially the past several years, has been impressive and record-breaking on so many levels.

My wife, Connie, and I were blessed to be able to raise our two kids (Luke and Madi) in this wonderful community. The four of us will be Hawkeyes for life.

I’ve made incredible friendships within the athletic department, across campus, throughout the greater Iowa City community, and across the State.

This decision didn’t come suddenly, nor did it come without significant thought, discussion, and prayer. As I’ve reflected, I came to the conclusion there’s never a good time to step away…because there’s always more to be done. That said, I’m confident this is the right time for me and for my family.

Again, I’m incredibly grateful to have served in this role. I look forward to wherever the next phase in my journey takes me.

Thank you to President Wilson for her continued support, along with everyone in the “Hawkeye Family” for this amazing run.

The best is yet to come! Go Hawks!”

Barta also served on numerous NCAA committees over the years. 

“Gary’s achievements 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,” said UI President Barbara Wilson. “I’m grateful for his leadership as a Hawkeye and I wish him well in his retirement."

He also faced heavy criticism over more than $11 million in settlements for lawsuits in recent years alleging racial and sexual discrimination within the athletic department.

Lawsuits filed by former field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum and associate athletics director Jane Meyer led to a $6.5 million payout.

Iowa had to pay $400,000 as part of a Title IX lawsuit brought by athletes after it cut four sports in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the agreement, Iowa reinstated the women’s swimming and diving program and add another women’s sport.

Iowa added women’s wrestling, the first among Power Five schools to compete this year.

A lawsuit brought by former football players alleging racial discrimination within the program was settled for $4.2 million last March, which prompted state auditor Rob Sand to call for Barta’s ouster.

“Clear personal accountability is necessary," Sand said. “I will not support taxpayers funding this settlement unless Gary Barta is no longer employed at the university and forfeits any severance or similar pay.”

Barta led Iowa through $380 million of facility upgrades, including renovation of Kinnick Stadium, the construction of a new football facility, a basketball practice facility and a training center for the wrestling teams.

Under Barta, Iowa has had just one head football coach (Kirk Ferentz), women’s basketball coach (Lisa Bluder) and wrestling coach (Tom Brands). All were in place when he arrived.

Barta has also come under scrutiny for allowing Ferentz to employ his son, Brian Ferentz, as offensive coordinator. To comply with the university's nepotism policy, Brian Ferentz reports to Barta.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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