IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) —
Iowa athletic director Gary Barta is retiring Aug. 1 after 17 years at the university, the school announced Friday.
Barta, 59, is one of the longest-tenured athletic directors in a Power Five conference. He was hired by Iowa in 2006 after serving as the AD at Wyoming.
An interim director will be announced next week, Iowa said.
In September, Iowa hired former Ball State athletic director Beth Goetz as associate director of athletics and chief operating officer, putting her in a position to possibly succeed Bart.
“It has been an absolute privilege and honor to serve in this role for the past 17 years,” Barta said in a statement. “This decision did not come suddenly, nor did it come without considerable thought, discussion and prayer.”
“However, I am convinced that this is the right time for me and my family.”
Iowa won four NCAA team titles and 27 Big Ten team titles during Barta’s tenure. The women’s basketball team is coming off a national championship game appearance, and the wrestling team is coming off a second-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
Barta served as chairman of the 2020 and 2021 College Football Playoff committees.
He has also faced heavy criticism for more than $11 million in lawsuit settlements in recent years over alleged racial and sexual discrimination within the athletic department.
Lawsuits by former field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum and assistant athletic director Jane Meyer resulted in a $6.5 million payout.
Iowa had to pay $400,000 in a Title IX lawsuit brought by athletes after canceling four sports in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the agreement, Iowa reinstated the women’s swimming and diving program and added another women’s sport.
Iowa also added women’s wrestling, the first among Power Five schools to compete this year.
A lawsuit filed by former football players alleging racial discrimination within the program was settled for $4.2 million last March, prompting state Auditor Rob Sand to call for Barta’s dismissal.
“Clear personal responsibility is essential,” Sand said. “I will not support the taxpayer funding of this settlement unless Gary Barta is no longer employed by the university and loses any severance pay or similar pay.”
Barta led Iowa through $380 million in facility upgrades, including renovations to Kinnick Stadium, construction of a new football facility, basketball practice facility and wrestling practice facility.
Under Bart, Iowa had just one head football coach (Kirk Ferentz), women’s basketball coach (Lisa Bluder) and wrestling coach (Tom Brands). Everyone was in their place when he arrived.
Barta also came under scrutiny for allowing Ferentz to hire his son, Brian Ferentz, as offensive coordinator. To comply with the university’s nepotism policy, Brian Ferentz reports to Barta.
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