A search for a new Athletics Director at the University of Iowa has likely already begun.

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This morning, The Athletic reported that "multiple school and industry sources" had told them that Gary Barta, who has been the Athletics Director for Iowa for the last 17 years, would soon announce his retirement. Now, the University of Iowa has confirmed the news.

Barta is just the third Athletics Director at the University of Iowa in more than a half-century. He has held the job for the last 17 years, succeeding Bob Bowlsby in 2006. Bowlsby was on the job for 16 years. Prior to that, Bump Elliott was the Athletics Director at Iowa for 21 years. Combined, the three men have held the position for 54 years. According to The Athletic, Barta, and Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz, "are the nation's longest-serving athletics director-football coach combination at one school."

Under Barta, Iowa has won a total of four national championship titles. They have all been in wrestling. Iowa programs have claimed 27 Big Ten team titles during his 17 years and almost 500 players have been named All-Americans.

Iowa has also enjoyed very high graduation rates and hundreds of millions of dollars in facility upgrades in the Barta years. However, his tenure, especially recently, has been littered with controversy. Over the last six years, The Athletic says the Iowa Athletics Department has settled $11 million worth of lawsuits due to Title IX, gender discrimination, and racial discrimination.

The University of Iowa confirmed the news in a press release just after 10:30 a.m. Friday morning. The release included a statement from Barta who said, “It has been an absolute privilege and honor to serve in this role the past 17 years I’m humbled to have worked beside, and on behalf of, so many student-athletes, coaches, staff, donors, fans, and community leaders over the past two decades. The success enjoyed by our student-athletes and coaches during my entire tenure, and especially the past several 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 kids (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, across campus, throughout the greater Iowa City community, and across the State. 

This decision didn’t come suddenly, nor did it come without significant thought, discussion, and prayer. As I’ve reflected, I came to the conclusion there’s never a good time to step away…because there’s always more to be done. That said, I’m confident this is the right time for me and for my family. 

Again, I’m incredibly grateful to have served in this role. I look forward to wherever the next phase in my journey takes me. 

Thank you to President Wilson for her continued support, along with everyone in the “Hawkeye Family” for this amazing run. 

The best is yet to come! Go Hawks!”

Iowa is expected to name 48-year-old Beth Goetz as Interim Athletics Director next week. She is currently Deputy Athletics Director at Iowa. She joined the University of Iowa athletic department in September of 2022, after serving as the Athletics Director at Ball State for four years. The Athletic says Goetz is considered the person most likely to replace Barta.

Barta will officially retire on August 1, the same day Kirk Ferentz will celebrate his 68th birthday.

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