Barta: Hawkeyes Embrace the Goal of High Academic Achievement
Jan. 30, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa - - The University of Iowa's commitment to the academic success of its student-athletes isn't new. Its roots run deep in the culture of the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI.
What is new - and has been new for the last two years - is the record-setting rate at which UI student-athletes are achieving: Student-athletes that entered the University of Iowa in the fall of 2005 graduated at a rate of 77 percent, according to the NCAA. That mark - which uses the federal government benchmark for graduation success - was three points better than the previous year when Iowa tied the former school record of 74 percent, set first in 1994-95. It was also six points better than the UI student body and 12 points better than that achieved all by student-athletes nationally.
The UI also set a new record by posting a score of 87 percent in the NCAA's "Graduation Success Rate" or GSR, one point better than what was posted in 2011. It marked the seventh time in the eight years of the GSR's existence that Iowa's student-athletes scored 80 percent or better.
The GSR score for 18 of Iowa's 24 sports programs exceeded that of the national average for their peers and, and 21 of Iowa's 24 sports programs scored 80 or better in the GSR. Perhaps most impressive was Iowa's GSR success in its highest profile sports versus their peers: The GSR's for football (82), men's basketball (89), and women's basketball (100) all handily bested the national averages in their sport: 68, 65, and 86, respectively.
In an 80-minute interview with hawkeyesports.com staff earlier this month, UI Director of Athletics Gary Barta reflected on a wide variety of topics of interest to friends of the University of Iowa and fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes including the UI Athletics Department's core principles (Win. Graduate. Do it right.) and its commitment to the academic experience of its student-athletes. Among other things, Barta said you don't have to compromise academic success to achieve at a high level academically.
"Historically, we have proven at Iowa you don't have to compromise. We know that we can excel in the classroom and we can excel competitively. So you have to avoid the temptation to look for some quick fix that compromises one of your principles," said Barta.
"Our three principles are not going to change as long as I'm here. We need to win, and if we don't win, I won't be here. I understand that, I embrace it, and I spend time focusing on it. We also need to graduate, and I won't back off on that principle, and we need to do those two things and everything else we do with integrity, (we need to) do it the right way."
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: Let's dig a little deeper on the value you place on our student-athletes getting their degrees. We've had great success with our graduation rates thanks, in great measure, to great work by our student-athletes. What do you say to the fan who may suggest to you to compromise a little on academic piece of the puzzle in an effort to maybe win another game here or there?
Gary Barta: Well, what I would say to that fan is I understand the angst of 4 8. Believe me, I live it and think about it every day. Our football coaches live it and think about it every day.
But, historically, we have proven at Iowa you don't have to compromise. We know that we can excel in the classroom and we can excel competitively. So you have to avoid the temptation to look for some quick fix that compromises one of your principles. Our three principles are not going to change as long as I'm here. We need to win, and if we don't win, I won't be here. I understand that, I embrace it, and I spend time focusing on it.
We also need to graduate, and I won't back off on that principle, and we need to do those two things and everything else we do with integrity, do it the right way. I've been in this business almost 30 years. I've always worked with people and worked at places that believe that. I will not compromise that.
Is it a little harder sometimes to not take a shortcut? Yeah, probably, but in the long run you get much greater enjoyment, much greater satisfaction, when you do all those things and you don't compromise.
It's hard when you're going through it. You have to resist the temptation of short cuts. That's why a leader like Kirk is so extraordinary. He has always believed in all three of those things and he's demonstrated over a very long period of time he can keep all three of those pieces of the puzzle in place.
Our graduation rates in football, I believe I'm right in saying this, Penn State and Northwestern are the only other two programs who academically have more success than our football program in the Big Ten, and among the nation we're one of the leaders.
So that's a long answer to tell you we're not going to compromise, we're not going to panic. We're going to keep all these principles in place, and yes, we understand we have to win more, and that's what we're committed to.