University of Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta announces retirement

(ABC 6 News) – University of Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta announced on Friday that he will retire.

Barta, 59, said he will retire effective August 1, after 17 years in the role. He became the University of Iowa’s Athletic Director in August 2006.

Barta released the following statement:

“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!”

Gary Barta, University of Iowa Athletic Director

Barta is the second-longest-tenured AD in the Big Ten, trailing only Ohio State AD Gene Smith.

His tenure included strong success on the field. Iowa has won 11 Big Ten championships since the fall of 2020. Iowa’s women’s basketball team, led by star Caitlin Clark, played for the national title in 2023.

Iowa’s men’s basketball team has won at least 20 games in each of the past four seasons and won the Big Ten tournament title in the 2021-22 season.

Meanwhile the football team has authored 10 consecutive winning seasons under coach Kirk Ferentz. That success included a 2015 season that saw the team make an appearance in the Big Ten title game and earn a trip to the Rose Bowl. The Hawkeyes also played for the Big Ten title 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.”

However, off the field, Barta’s tenure featured multiple high-profile lawsuits, which saw Iowa pay out more than $10 million since 2017. Those included a settlement of over $4 million to a group of Black former Iowa football players who sued the university for discrimination. There was also a $6.5 million payout in 2017 over the firing of a former field hockey coach. A former senior athletic director also won $1.4 million in damages in 2017 for a discrimination lawsuit.

Additionally, the school announced this month that it is fully cooperating in a sports wagering investigation and that the school “has received information about 111 individuals,” although only 26 are current athletes.

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