Director of Athletics Gary Barta
Now in his seventh year as director of athletics at the University of Iowa and his 26th year in athletic administration, Gary Barta manages an athletics program that continues to gain momentum in two key areas -- on the playing field and in the classroom -- while enhancing the infrastructure that will serve as the foundation for future successes.
Academically, the UI's federal graduation rate of 74 percent (for student-athletes who enrolled in 2004-05) ties the best ever posted by UI athletics. That mark was a 13-point increase over the previous year and was nine points above the national average; UI student-athletes will establish another record when the latest figures are released in October. Last fall, the NCAA confirmed that all 24 of Iowa's teams exceeded the Academic Progress Rate (APR) benchmark for the fourth straight year.
In figures released last fall, Iowa's score of 86 percent in the NCAA's "Graduation Success Rate" or GSR, also matched a school record. Five different women's teams at the UI posted perfect 100 GSR scores. Iowa's GSR in football (83), men's (73) and women's (100) basketball all ranked above the national average for their respective sports.
Athletically, Hawkeye teams enjoyed another outstanding year in 2011-12. A significant number of Iowa's 24 programs reached postseason play. The Iowa football team reached bowl eligibility for the 11th straight season and competing in a bowl game for the fourth straight year and 10th time in the last 11 seasons. The women's basketball program participated in the NCAA Tournament for a fifth straight season and men's basketball returned to postseason competition under second-year coach Fran McCaffery, recording an 84-75 win over Dayton in front of 13,190 re-energized fans in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa's field hockey team advanced to the NCAA Tournament and the Hawkeye softball team placed second in the Big Ten. Between the men's and women's track and field teams, 34 student-athletes competed at the NCAA Championships and 14 members of the UI men's and women's swimming and diving teams qualified for the Olympic Trials.
And, while the UI athletics department continues to earn high marks in integrity, academic excellence, and athletic performances. Barta also continues to oversee critical improvements and additions to the facilities used by the UI's talented student-athletes while maintaining a balanced and ever-growing operations budget that continues to be self-sustaining.
In addition to the competitive success the Hawkeyes recorded in 2011-12, the UI once again experienced tremendous success at the turnstiles. Iowa has sold every seat in historic Kinnick Stadium in each of the past two seasons, ranking 21st in national attendance both years. The UI will enter the 2012 home football season with all seven home games sold out once again and boasts waiting lists for not only season tickets, but also the premium seating options available inside the Paul W. Brechler Press Box.
Attendance at home games of the UI's men's basketball team has climbed more than 30 percent the last two seasons. Iowa's attendance of 13,190 for a first round NIT game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena ranked as the highest attended game of the 2012 tournament.
The UI wrestling team set another national attendance record by averaging 9,014 fans per home meet in 2011-12, leading the nation in attendance for the sixth straight year. The economic impact of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials, hosted by the UI in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, exceeded $5 million, according to survey results released by the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Attendance at home games of the UI's women's basketball games also remained strong as the program once again ranked among national leaders in 2011-12. The UI also registered increases in attendance at home volleyball, soccer, field hockey, women's gymnastics, men's gymnastics, softball and baseball events.
Since 2006, the Hawkeyes have invested more than $150 million in new and renovated athletic facilities. Upgrades include the restoration of historic Kinnick Stadium and Carver-Hawkeye Arena, as well as a new state-of-the-art aquatics center, a boathouse facility for the UI rowing program and an indoor and outdoor tennis complex. Another $60 million worth of improvements are underway in the form of the two phase football training center project and an indoor golf performance facility.
In late summer 2011, the UI completed a $47 million revitalization of Carver-Hawkeye Arena. That project included the construction of a practice facility for men's and women's basketball and volleyball, a 10,000-square-foot strength training and cardiovascular center, and an expansion to the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex, in addition to new locker room and support facilities for men's and women's basketball, wrestling and volleyball programs, and office space for the majority of Iowa administrative and coaching staffs.
Phase I of a two-phase project for the UI football program was completed in August, 2012. Phase I includes the new indoor practice facility for Coach Kirk Ferentz' program that has competed on 10 bowl games over the past 11 seasons. Phase II includes construction of the new Iowa Football Operations Center, which will include new team locker rooms, team meeting rooms, athletic medical training space, video operations, and coaches offices and meeting rooms. Funded entirely through private support and revenue generated by the UI Athletics Department, the project is an important next phase of the master facilities plan for Hawkeye football. It will be constructed adjacent to the Ron and Margaret Kenyon Outdoor Practice Facility, immediately west of Kinnick Stadium and will be connected to the new indoor practice facility.
The 2010-11 season marked the first for the men's and women's swimming and diving teams in the UI's $69 million Campus Recreation and Wellness Center. The Hawkeyes hosted the 2012 Big Ten Championships and the UI men's squad responded by earning its highest Big Ten finish in 15 seasons.
Another of the latest additions to the facilities available to the UI's student-athletes is the Varsity Golf Complex practice facility for the men's and women's golf programs. Located at the southern edge of the UI's award-winning Finkbine Golf Course, the facility is expected to be completed for use this winter. It will provide the Hawkeyes a state-of-the-art facility that offers the opportunity for year-round training and practice.
Barta's involvement in the UI campus community extends beyond intercollegiate athletics. He is a member of the President's Cabinet, comprised of vice presidents and other campus leaders, that provide counsel to UI President Sally Mason. That group was instrumental in the UI's response to record-setting flooding that besieged the campus and the Iowa City and Coralville community in June 2008.
Barta also represents the UI and the Hawkeyes at the conference and national level. During his first six years at the UI, he has participated in the creation and implementation of the Big Ten Network, the expansion of the Big Ten Conference and realignment of athletics conferences nationally, and the Big Ten's postseason bowl game agreements that were successfully implemented in 2010.
Nationally, Barta remains active in the Division IA Athletics Directors Association, the National Association of College Directors of Athletics, and currently serves on the NCAA Football Committee Board of Directors.
Barta often suggests to his staff that "Hope is not a strategy," which is why he is currently overseeing a comprehensive review of the strategic plan for the UI Athletics Department and has worked with the UI's leadership on a long-term financial plan.
Another favorite saying of his is, "Vision without resources is irrelevant." Over the course of his career he has been directly involved in raising hundreds of millions of dollars in support of intercollegiate athletics. This has remained a primary focus during his tenure at Iowa, where private support for the Hawkeyes continues to flourish despite a challenging economy.
Under Barta's leadership -¬ and thanks to a talented athletics development staff - the UI has seen year-over-year improvement in annual giving in spite of the difficult economic environment. In addition, under Barta's direction, the UI generated more than $20 million of philanthropic and corporate sponsorship support for the revitalization of Carver-Hawkeye Arena and has already surpassed that level of support for the current football projects.
The UI also generated the $2 million in private support necessary to fully fund the Hawkeyes' new practice facility for its men's and women's golf programs.
As the director of athletics at the University of Wyoming for three years, seven different UW coaches were named Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year. He also spearheaded a fund-raising effort that netted the Cowboy athletics program $11 million in private support and $11 million in matching state fund.
As the senior associate athletics director at the University of Washington, he directed the "Campaign for the Student-Athlete," was a participant in the design, construction and/or renovation of several UW athletics facilities, including Bank of America Arena and the Dempsey Indoor Practice Facility. In addition to almost doubling the amount of annual private support received by UW, Barta also managed the department's external relations division, a task that included corporate sponsorship and radio contracts.
His responsibilities at Washington expanded over time to include hiring of coaching and administrative staff, and the day-to-day oversight of several Huskie sport teams.
The roots of his development experience extend to his first two positions: director of athletics development and external relations at the University of Northern Iowa and director of development at his alma mater, North Dakota State University.
Barta earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mass communication and broadcast journalism from NDSU in 1987. He was an option quarterback for Bison football squads that won the Division II NCAA National Championship in 1983, 1985 and 1986.
Barta, and his wife, Connie, have a son, Luke (14) and a daughter, Madison (12). He was born Sept. 4, 1963, in Minneapolis.