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Longtime Iowa athletic director Gary Barta announces retirement

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta is retiring.

Iowa announced Friday morning that Barta will walk away from his role effective Aug. 1 after 17 years in Iowa City.

Barta, whose contract was set to expire in June 2024, was one of the longest-tenured athletic directors in the country. Barta, 59, began his role at Iowa in 2006 and recently served as the chair of the College Football Playoff selection committee.

“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,” Barta said.

The Hawkeyes have consistently succeeded in sports like football, wrestling and men’s and women’s basketball throughout Barta’s tenure, but the athletic department has dealt with an array of controversies in recent years.

In March, a $4 million settlement was reached in a 2020 lawsuit filed against the university by a group of Black former Iowa football players who alleged discrimination and mistreatment in the football program under longtime head coach Kirk Ferentz. There was also a $6.5 million settlement in a discrimination lawsuit involving a former women’s field hockey coach, and a $1.4 million settlement in a lawsuit filed by a former senior associate athletic director.

CHAMPAIGN, IL - OCTOBER 08: Iowa Hawkeyes athletic director Gary Barta looks on during the college football game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Illinois Fighting Illini on October 7, 2022, at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Additionally, criticism for nepotism in the football program surrounding Ferentz hiring and retaining his son, Brian, as offensive coordinator has persisted in recent years, especially as the Hawkeyes have continually been one of the worst teams in the country on that side of the ball.

And most recently, a sports gambling investigation involving 111 individuals, including 26 current Iowa athletes from baseball, football, men’s basketball, men’s track and field, and wrestling, is currently ongoing.

“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,” Barta said.

According to multiple outlets, Beth Goetz is considered a potential candidate to step into the athletic director role. Goetz was hired by Iowa as its deputy athletic director and chief operating officer in September 2022. She previously served as the athletic director at Ball State.

Iowa said an interim athletic director will be named next week.