Univ. of Iowa Athletic Director Barta announces retirement

University of Iowa's athletic director Gary Barta says he will retire this summer.
Published: May. 26, 2023 at 9:08 AM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - University of Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta announced Friday he will retire on August 1, after 17 years in the role.

The 59-year-old started in the position in 2006.

He released the following statement on Friday:

“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.

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!”

Iowa athletics has seen much success with Barta in the role. From the fall of 2020 through 2021, Iowa athletic programs have won the most Big Ten championships in any two-year period in the university’s history, with 11. The university also added a women’s wrestling program in 2021.

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

“I was surprised to learn that Gary is retiring today. I valued our working relationship as he led our athletic department over the past 17 years. I certainly understand and respect his decision to walk away and wish he and Connie the very best in their new chapter,” said Iowa Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz.

Iowa Men’s Basketball Head Coach Fran McCaffery released the following statement:

“Gary Barta was phenomenal to work with. One of the things that attracted me to the University of Iowa 13 years ago was his unwavering support of our staff and student-athletes, his commitment to doing things the right way, and always maintaining the integrity of our institution.

Gary is loyal, and he was committed to constantly making us better. His diligence has helped our program succeed in the most competitive conference in college athletics. A lot of the success our program has had is a direct result of Gary’s vision to improve Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The addition of the practice facility, and upgrades to the weight room and locker rooms were game changers for both men’s and women’s basketball, not to mention a number of other facility improvements for other teams.

On a personal note, he has always been incredibly supportive of my family, including when my son Patrick was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2014. That speaks volumes about his character.”

Barta has faced calls for his resignation after four discrimination lawsuits in the last nine years, adding up to more than $11 million in settlements.

“Gary Barta’s departure is a long time coming given the four different lawsuits for discrimination that cost Iowa more than $11 million,” said State Auditor Rob Sand. “Discrimination demands accountability. The University of Iowa should publicly release all terms of his departure.”

The university is expected to announce an interim athletics director next week.