Friday, June 23, 2006

Wyoming's Gary Barta, 42, Will Be Paid An Annual Base Salary Of $295,000 To Become the Successor To Bob Bowlsby As Iowa's Athletic Director

Gary A. Barta was named athletic director at the University of Iowa today by Interim President Gary Fethke.

Barta, 42, who is currently athletic director at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, will begin his new duties Aug. 1 at an annual base salary of $295,000.

Barta succeeds Bob Bowlsby, who is leaving Iowa after 15 years to take the athletic director position at Stanford.

“Gary Barta stood out as the best candidate in a very competitive pool of candidates following a national search,” Fethke said. “He has the qualities it takes to improve on an athletics program that is already considered one of the nation’s best.

"I am impressed that he has always put the welfare of his student-athletes first, and that he has also excelled in fielding competitive teams that excite fans. Gary has the business acumen to make budgets and to inspire the confidence that leads to significant private and corporate support.

“On behalf of the university community, I want to thank the entire search committee and especially co-chairs Dr. Charles Lynch and Joe Reddington, for conducting a thorough and expeditious search process."

Barta said, “I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the University of Iowa athletics program,” Barta said. “I thank President Fethke and the search committee for their confidence.

"I look forward to working on a successful transition with Bob Bowlsby, for whom I have the utmost respect. I’m eager to get to know our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and the other members of the athletic department and the entire University of Iowa community. It’s great to be a Hawkeye!”

Barta has 19 years of university and athletic administration experience. He has been Wyoming athletic director since October of 2003. From November, 1996, to October, 2003, he was senior associate athletic director for external relations and sports programs at the University of Washington in Seattle.

From 1990 to 1996, he was associated with the University of Northern Iowa, where he was director of athletic development and external relations. He also served as associate director of development at North Dakota State University in Fargo, from 1988-90, where he was responsible for fundraising for athletics, the colleges of business and engineering, and the university’s annual fund.

Earlier this year, the University of Wyoming received the NCAA Division I-A Program of Excellence award, which honors athletics programs that are superior athletically, academically, and in student-athlete life skill preparation.

Barta has overseen a program with a number of significant accomplishments on the field of play at Wyoming, including a 2004 Las Vegas Bowl victory over UCLA; a 21-win season by the women’s basketball team in the 2005-06 season completed this spring; a Top 20 placing by the women’s track team in the NCAA championships in 2005; and a Top 25 finish in men’s NCAA swimming in 2004. During his three-year tenure, seven Wyoming coaches have won Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year awards.

Barta has been a successful fundraiser, having helped secure more than $150 million in private contributions and corporate sponsorships over the past 10 years. In less than two years, he helped the University of Wyoming raise more than $22 million, including $11 million in private contributions and $11 million in matching state funds.

He was directly involved in major fundraising programs at Washington, including a $100 million plan for facility renovations.

Barta earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and broadcast journalism from North Dakota State, where he was also a member of the football team that won three NCAA Division I-AA football championships.

Barta’s wife, Connie, is a native of Waterloo. She and Gary are pictured at the top of this column.

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Here's a profile on Barta from the University of Wyoming that obviously was written before he agreed to come to Iowa:

It doesn't take long to get to know Gary Barta, and once you've met him, you'd swear you've known him for years. He makes you feel comfortable.

It doesn't take long to understand his passion for intercollegiate athletics, either. He'll get you fired up about the University of Wyoming.

There's his enthusiasm, friendly smile, and his ability to make you feel special. But more importantly, there's his commitment; his commitment to what is right with collegiate athletics; his commitment to the student-athlete; his commitment to the fan base that so loyally supports the program. He is as genuine as a Wyoming sunset.

On Sept. 15, 2003, former UW President Philip L. Dubois selected Barta as the school's seventh athletics director, to navigate Wyoming's intercollegiate athletics department through one of its most exciting and critical periods in history.

What has been accomplished since Barta's arrival is amazing. Wyoming's Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is as healthy as it has been in decades.

Dubois' selection could not have been more right for Wyoming. "Gary is a leader," Dubois said. "He has the experience, the energy, and the personality to help move the University of Wyoming's Intercollegiate Athletics Program to the level of excellence we want for all of our university programs. He is not just the right guy, but he comes from the right kind of place. Coming from the PAC-10 (Washington), a BCS conference with a storied tradition of excellence, Gary knows what a first-class athletic program looks like, and he knows how to get us there."

Thanks to Barta, Wyoming is well on its way to getting there.

Wyoming's athletic programs are enjoying more success, across the board, than they have in years. Teams are winning, the budget is growing and facilities are being built. In Barta's first three years, seven Wyoming coaches have received Coach of the Year honors from the Mountain West Conference. Wyoming swimming produced an Olympian (Scott Usher), and Cowgirl track had a national champion (Shauna Smith). Eleven of Wyoming's programs earned grade-point averages of 3.0 or better following the spring semester. Cowboy offensive center Trenton Franz was selected as an Academic All-American, and earned an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship. The Intercollegiate Athletics budget has grown from $16.5 million when he arrived to nearly $20 million in 2006-07.

Dubois felt strongly that Barta was the man to assist him in securing funding for the Strategic Plan for Intercollegiate Athletics . The plan was approved by the university trustees in September of 2003 to position UW for success as a member of the NCAA Division I-A Mountain West Conference. A key element of the plan was to address critical facility needs to strengthen the recruitment of student-athletes and coaches, and to enhance the fan experience at War Memorial Stadium.

In his first 15 months, Barta was instrumental in securing $20 million for facility renovations. In March of 2004, the Wyoming State Legislature approved a $10 million matching fund. By June of 2005, the $10 million was raised, and the matching fund exhausted. The campaign included a $5 million gift from Casper entrepreneurs John and Mari Ann Martin and Mick and Susie McMurry and their families, matched by the state for a total of $10 million. In March of 2006, the Legislature was convinced by Barta and other UW officials to provide an additional $6 million in matching funds. Within 30 days, the campaign had already raised $1.5 million toward that goal.

Facility needs addressed in the plan included: repairing the structure of War Memorial Stadium (upper West stands completed in summer of 2004); replacing the playing surface at the stadium, which has been named "Jonah Field" in recognition of the McMurry-Martin gift (completed in August of 2005); building of an indoor practice facility primarily for football and women's soccer, but ultimately benefitting all 17 sports at UW (design underway, construction to begin in August, 2006); enhancing the stadium with improved restroom and concession facilities, as well as donor suites (Upper East and West concourse renovation completed in summer of 2006); improving women's tennis facilities; and installing an all-weather track (construction underway, to be completed in August, 2004).

Barta is extremely committed to UW's Strategic Plan, and is impressed with the amount of progress made in such a short period of time.

"The plan does a great job of laying the ground work for Wyoming's future success," he says. "It is visionary, and yet practical. However, great vision without resources is irrelevant. I'm thrilled and grateful we've been able to accomplish both. It has taken a lot of hard work by a lot of people, and tremendous generosity by many wonderful supporters, but I'm happy to say the Athletic Plan is well on its way. The buy-in, and the commitment to Cowgirl and Cowboy athletics is amazing.

"There is a great history and tradition with this athletics program. There is a marvelous love affair between this wonderful state, and its athletic programs. The momentum of the Strategic Plan has UW athletics back on a successful track, the kind of success that has built the tremendous tradition that is Wyoming. Those, who call themselves Cowboy fans, have done their part to make it happen. We're not done by any means, raising funds necessary to be successful is a constant. But the progress made has been very impressive."

Barta is a native of Minneapolis, Minn. Prior to coming to Wyoming, he served as the University of Washington's Senior Associate Athletics Director for External Relations and Sports Programs from 1996-2003. In that position, he was responsible for raising more than $100 million in private and corporate funds for capital improvements. He also was responsible for generating revenue to fund Washington's $40 million annual intercollegiate athletics budget. While at Washington, Barta was directly involved in a variety of duties including: hiring of coaches and administrative staff; coordinating the schedule for men's basketball; initiating and managing sponsorship relationships and negotiating radio network contracts.

Upon his arrival at Washington, he directed its "Campaign for the Student-Athlete" which included a $100 million upgrade of five athletics facilities. Barta was a central participant in the design and construction of those facilities, including the $44 million renovation of the Bank of America Arena and a $30 million renovation of the Dempsey Indoor Practice Facility. During his tenure, annual private support increased from $6.9 million per year to $15.8 million.

In addition to management of all external relations including fund-raising, marketing and ticketing programs, Barta assisted coaches and student-athletes in Washington's 23 sports to achieve a high level of success on and off the field. In his final year in Seattle (2002-03), 21 of the 23 Husky sports programs participated in postseason play, and the average grade-point average for the 23 teams was 3.0.

Barta has been an active participant in the National Association for Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), and was recently named to the Executive Committee of that organization.

Barta earned his bachelor of science degree in mass communication and broadcast journalism from North Dakota State University in 1987. He was an option quarterback for the Bison football squad that won the Division II NCAA National Championships in 1983, 1985 and 1986. He returned to NDSU to begin his career in 1988 as an associate director of development and later director of development. While at his alma mater, Barta assisted in the completion of a $15 million capital campaign, and served on a task force that helped raise funds for the 20,000-seat Fargo Dome on campus. He remained there through 1990. During that same time, he also was a sportscaster for WDAY radio and television in Fargo, N.D.

From 1990 through 1996, Barta served as Director of Athletics Development and External Relations at the University of Northern Iowa. There he managed all fund-raising, marketing and promotions, and media relations activities for the school's 17-sport program.

Barta and his wife, Connie, have a son, Luke (8) and a daughter, Madison (6).