Barta: 'Hope is Not a Strategy'
Jan. 28, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa - "Hope is not a strategy."
Those who work closely with Gary Barta, the University of Iowa's director of athletics, hear this phrase often. So, it should come as no surprise that Barta and many other members of the staff of the UI Athletics Department are currently knee-deep in finalizing the department's strategic plan for the next five years.
Barta's responsibility to operate a self-sustaining intercollegiate athletics program that is 24 sports wide and more than 650 student-athletes and 220 full-time staff deep doesn't afford him the option of operating without a plan. It requires one, particularly when you're talking about an annual operating budget thay now exceeds $80.6 million.
"We're not going to hope that our finances turn out well. We're planning for it in the short term and long term," Barta said in an 80-minute interview with staff of hawkeyesports.com earlier this month.
"Our No. 1 investment is investing in people, investing in our staff, making sure that we have great staff and coaches. Investing in our student athletes, making sure our student athletes are terrific people, and investing there. And then, once you have that people investment and it's on-going, then you've got to give those people the tools to be successful, and facilities is a big part of that."
What follows is an edited excerpt of a portion of the first "One-on-One with Gary Barta." A transcript of the full interview will be available exclusively inside the February 2013 edition of Hawk Talk Monthly presented by Transamerica, which will be available online the afternoon of Jan. 31. A video of the interview will also be available at that time inside Hawkeye All-Access, the multi-media portal of hawkeyesports.com.
hs.com: So what will fill the void that's created when the Iowa football program moves into its new facility? Is there a plan for that?
Gary Barta: We don't have that finalized yet, but we've brought in architects and consultants to take a look at this space and tell us what some of the possibilities are.
I mentioned earlier that we've had a strategic plan in place from 2008 to 2013. Well, we're now living in 2013. So last summer the senior staff and I and our coaches began the process of looking at the next strategic plan. Within that strategic plan there will be a financial strategic plan, which I already mentioned, and there will be a master facilities plan.
Right now all my energy, all of our staff's energy, our fundraising energy is centered around finishing Phase II of football. So we're raising money, we're meeting with architects, construction firms are being interviewed, and that's a big one that we need to get taken care of.
While we are doing that, we are looking forward. What will the previous space used by football be replaced with? It will be replaced with something. It might be gymnastics, it might be a training table, it might be some other sport. So what we're doing in our next phase of strategic planning is creating a master facility plan, and the goal of the master facility plan is to say, all right, coaches and staff, what do you envision we're going to need to do in the next five to 10 years in our facilities, and let's get a wish list, let's get a brainstorming list on paper right now, and then we're going to prioritize.
I say all the time, "Vision without resources is irrelevant." But you do have to have a vision, and once you formalize that, then you have to figure out how you're going to pay for it.
So things like the long term location of indoor track, outdoor track, baseball, softball. I mentioned gymnastics and upgrading. They're the last group we have in the Field House. And so all of those are on the table.