After 17 years at the helm, Gary Barta revealed this morning that he would retire as Iowa’s athletics director on August 1.
Under Barta’s watch, the Iowa Hawkeyes captured four national wrestling championships, 27 Big Ten team titles, saw more than 160 student-athletes recognized as first-team All-Big Ten selections, and had multiple National Player of the Year athletes.
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Naturally, those who worked closely with Barta wanted to share their thoughts on his impending retirement. The GazetteJohn Steppe shared statements from Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz and Iowa head basketball coach Fran McCaffery.
Kirk Ferentz and Fran McCaffery on Gary Barta’s retirement: pic.twitter.com/CvOczb0NH1
— John Steppe (@JSteppe1) May 26, 2023
Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes enjoyed a score of 137-79 (83-59 Big Ten). Iowa won a pair of Big Ten West divisional crowns in 2015 and 2021. The Hawkeyes earned 15 bowl game trips, winning seven of those games.
Ferentz shared his thoughts on Barta’s decision to retire.
“I was surprised to hear that Gary is retiring today. I valued our working relationship as he led our athletic department for the past 17 years. I certainly understand and respect his decision to walk away and wish him and Connie the very best in their new chapter,” Ferentz said in a statement.
The Hawkeyes are enjoying perhaps their best period of sustained basketball success for men. Iowa has held four consecutive NCAA tournaments and seven overall under the leadership of Fran McCaffery, head Iowa men’s basketball coach.
McCaffery has compiled an overall record of 261-176 (126-118 Big Ten) and is just 10 wins away from tying and 11 wins away from surpassing Tom Davis and the Hawkeyes’ all-time win record.
“Gary Barta was phenomenal to work with. One of the things that drew me to the University of Iowa 13 years ago was his unwavering support of our staff and student-athletes, his dedication to doing things the right way and always upholding the integrity of our institution .
“Gary is loyal and he was determined to make us better all the time. His diligence has helped our program succeed in the most competitive conference in college athletics. Much of our program’s success is a direct result of Gary’s vision to improve the Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The addition of the practice facility and upgrades to the weight room and locker rooms were groundbreaking 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,” McCaffery said of Barta.
Of course, Barta released a statement earlier today about why he felt it was the right time to move forward with the University of Iowa.
“The success of our student-athletes and coaches throughout my tenure, and especially in recent 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 children (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, on campus, in the greater Iowa City community, and across the state.
“This decision did not come suddenly, nor did it come without much thought, discussion and prayer. As I’ve been thinking, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s never a good time to step away…because there’s always more to do. Having said that, I am sure that now is the right time for me and for my family,” Barta said of his decision to retire.
Barta came to the University of Iowa in August 2006 after serving as Wyoming’s athletic director from 2003-06.
In Iowa’s press release about Barta’s impending retirement, the university revealed that an interim athletic director would be announced next week.
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