Gary Barta is in his 15th year as the director of athletics at the University of Iowa, where he occupies the Henry B. and Patricia B. Tippie Director of Athletics Chair. The position was endowed in 2017 by the Tippies, longtime supporters of the University of Iowa and Hawkeye Athletics. Henry B. Tippie earned his UI degree in 1949 and was presented with an honorary degree in 2009.
Barta is in his second year as a member of the College Football Playoff (CFP) Selection Committee, serving as committee chairman in 2020. He was appointed to the selection committee by the CFP Management Committee in February, 2019 and is serving a three-year term.
After claiming four Big Ten championships in 2018-19, Iowa Athletics had a strong start to 2020 with the field hockey team winning both the regular season and tournament championships while advancing to the NCAA Elite Eight. Iowa’s soccer team advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in school history and Hawkeye football completed a 10-win season with a resounding Holiday Bowl win over Southern California.
Prior to the winter seasons being canceled due to COVID-19 in March, the Hawkeye wrestling team captured the Big Ten regular season and postseason championships, while men’s and women’s basketball were on pace to participate in the 2020 NCAA tournaments.
2019-20 Hawkeye Athletics Highlights
Football: Iowa football closed the season with a win over No. 22 Southern California in the 2019 Holiday Bowl, posting its 10th win of the season. Iowa football has earned eight or more wins in each of the last five seasons. The Hawkeyes have won 47 games over the past five seasons, the best five-year win total in school history. Head coach Kirk Ferentz has earned 162 career victories at Iowa, becoming the winningest football coach in school history. Along with the Holiday Bowl victory, Iowa also won three of four rivalry trophy games. Two Hawkeye players were named Player of the Year at their position in the Big Ten Conference, and five were selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Wrestling: Iowa claimed the Big Ten regular season and postseason championships, with three Hawkeyes winning individual Big Ten titles. Iowa would have been represented by its entire 10-man line-up at the NCAA Championships. Spencer Lee shared the Sullivan Award, presented to the top amateur athlete in the United States. He was also the Big Ten Wrestler of the Year and winner of the Dan Hodge Trophy. Coach Tom Brands was named Big Ten, National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA), and InterMat Coach of the Year following Iowa’s undefeated season. Iowa wrestling led the nation in home attendance for the 14th straight year, setting a new national record (12,568).
Men’s Basketball: Iowa was nationally ranked the final 10 weeks of the season, including a final ranking of No. 25, prior to the season being canceled before the Big Ten Tournament. Junior center Luka Garza was named Big Ten Player of the Year and was a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection. Garza was named National Player of the Year by six outlets, was a consensus first-team All-America honoree, and was the recipient of the Pete Newell Big Man of the Year and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year awards. Head coach Fran McCaffery has led Iowa to postseason tournaments seven of the last eight seasons (4 NCAA, 3 NIT), and 2020 would have included another NCAA bid. McCaffery has guided Iowa to 20 wins or more in six of the past eight seasons and upper-division Big Ten finishes seven of the past eight years.
Women’s Basketball: Head coach Lisa Bluder’s team posted a 24-7 overall record in 2019-20, finishing third in the Big Ten (14-4). Iowa was nationally ranked the final eight weeks of the season, ending the season ranked 21st and virtually locked in to receive another NCAA postseason invitation. Senior Kathleen Doyle was named the Big Ten Player of the Year and was a third-team All-America selection. Bluder and her staff led Iowa to its 11th 20-win season over the last 13 seasons and 13th in Bluder’s tenure. The Hawkeye women carry a 36-game home winning streak into the 2020-21 season.
Field Hockey: Iowa claimed the Big Ten Conference regular season title and the postseason tournament championships. The Hawkeyes advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight. Sixth-year head coach Lisa Cellucci and her staff were named National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) West Region Coaching Staff of the Year for the second straight season, and Katie Birch was named NFHCA West Region Player of the Year. Maddy Murphy and Birch earned All-America honors, and 11 Hawkeyes were named to the Division I National Academic Squad.
Soccer: The women’s soccer team tied Iowa’s school record with 15 wins, including seven victories in Big Ten play. Iowa earned its second-ever NCAA Tournament berth after being ranked as high as 19th during the regular season. Three Hawkeyes earned All-Big Ten honors and two players — Kaleigh Haus and Hannah Drkulec — earned first-team Academic All-America honors. The team also had a school-record 19 Academic All-Big Ten selections.
Track & Field: The Iowa men’s track and field team was not able to defend its Big Ten Conference Championship due to the mid-March cancellation of the spring season. Wayne Lawrence was named Big Ten Athlete of the Year, leading the Hawkeye men to a second-place finish at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, the highest for Iowa since 1963. Lawrence earned three gold medals at the championships.
Laulauga Tausaga led the Iowa women at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, capturing a conference title in the weight throw. She was named Midwest Regional Athlete of the Year for the second straight indoor season.
Rowing: Sixth-year head coach Andrew Carter led Iowa to its third consecutive NCAA Championships appearance in 2019, placing 13th overall with 63 points. The Hawkeyes have been nationally ranked for a program-best 31 straight weeks, peaking at No. 8 in 2019. The 2020 season was canceled prior to any official competition.
Men’s Tennis: The Hawkeyes were ranked as high as No. 20 in the nation while posting a 12-2 record prior to the cancellation of the season. The ranking is the highest in program history. Will Davies and Oliver Okonkwo were ranked No. 10 nationally, the highest ranking by a doubles team in school history.
Women’s Tennis: Elise van Heuvelen Treadwell was named first-team All-Big Ten, and the Hawkeyes were 1-0 in league play prior to the season’s cancellation.
Baseball: Baseball posted a 10-5 record prior to the season being canceled, posting three wins over nationally ranked opponents in the early portion of the season. After 15 games, the Hawkeyes led the Big Ten in both hitting and fielding. Coach Rick Heller earned career win No. 900, and first baseman Peyton Williams was named a Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American. The Hawkeyes also tied a school record with 12 Academic All-Big Ten selections.
Swimming & Diving: Iowa swimming and diving posted 12 school records during the 2019-20 season, and the Hawkeyes had six athletes named College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) All-Americans. The men’s team was ranked 20th in the final CSCAA Dual Meet rankings, and the team placed sixth at the Big Ten Championships – its highest finish since 2012. The women placed 10th at the Big Ten Championships with 430 points, the most points for the program since 2014.
• Hawkeye student-athletes set all-time highs with a 90 percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR) and 76 percent Federal Graduation Rate (FGR) for a four-class average. UI student-athletes rank higher than the national average in GSR and FGR.
• Eight UI programs posted a perfect GSR score: soccer, women’s swimming, field hockey, men’s golf, volleyball, women’s golf, women’s gymnastics, and men’s gymnastics.
• Hawkeye student-athletes had an average GPA of 3.27 during the 2019-20 academic year and have had an average GPA of over 3.0 the last six years.
• Over 250 Iowa student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten recognition for the 2019-20 school year.
• Ninety Big Ten Conference Distinguished Scholars.
• Over 470 student-athletes earned Dean’s List and President’s List honors.
• Soccer: Kaleigh Haus and Hannah Drkulec named first-team Academic All-America.
• Field Hockey: Earned the Zag Field Hockey/NFHCA Division I National Academic Team Award for the third consecutive year. A program-record 11 Hawkeyes were named to the 2019 Zag Field Hockey/NFHCA Division I National Academic Squad.
• Men’s & Women’s Cross Country: Teams were named 2019 United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Academic Team.
• Rowing: Amassed 20 fall 2019 Dean’s List honorees and 25 spring 2020 Dean’s List honorees.
• Soccer: Earned the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Team Academic Award. Two student-athletes – Kaleigh Haus and Hannah Drkulec – were College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) First-Team Academic All-Americans. It was the second straight year both players earned All-America distinction.
• Swimming & Diving: Both men’s and women’s teams earned the CSCAA Scholar All-America team honor for both the fall and spring semesters. Thirteen Hawkeyes earned individual Scholar All-America distinction.
• Wrestling: Led the country with a school-record eight NWCA Scholar-Athletes and set a program-best with 17 Academic All-Big Ten honorees.
• Softball: Sixteen student-athletes earned Dean’s List honors for 2019-20.
• Volleyball: Three student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten honors, while the program tallied nine Dean’s List honors for 2019-20.
• Women’s Golf: Stephanie Herzog, Dana Lerner, and Jacque Galloway were named Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) All-American Scholars.
• Track and Field: Eleven athletes, eight men and three women, named to the USTFCCCA All-Academic teams.
• Men’s Tennis: Six Hawkeyes named Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Scholar-Athletes, which requires a grade point average of 3.5 for the academic year.
• Women’s Tennis: Five Hawkeyes named ITA Scholar-Athletes, which requires a grade point average of 3.5 for the academic year.
Do It Right
• The University of Iowa Athletics Department and the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital facilitated the “Kinnick Wave” during home football games in 2017, creating national recognition. The “Kinnick Wave” was presented the Disney Spirit Award in 2017.
• Twelfth anniversary: Iowa Football/University of Iowa Children’s Hospital “Kid Captain” program.
• Student-Athlete Academic Services has sponsored the annual Iowa Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (ISAAC) Day of Caring for 22 years, with over 250 student-athletes assisting area agencies with spring clean-up, landscaping, sustainability projects, etc. This service opportunity is in collaboration with United Way of Johnson and Washington Counties.
• Student-athletes annually participate in over 4,000 appearances resulting in the accumulation of more than 10,000 hours of community service and programming. Student-athletes also participate in educational programming opportunities throughout the year.
• Within the Hawkeye Life Program, student-athletes gain experience in six areas which include Leadership, Community Engagement, Academic Success, Career Development, Health & Well-Being, and Diversity & Inclusion. 2019-20 highlights:
• Diversity & Inclusion – – Student-Athletes from the Multicultural Focus Group created the Hawkeye Pledge this past spring, which emphasizes the values we intend to uphold in the Athletics Department to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.
• Leadership – – Continued collaboration with UI Student Government (UISC). Two student-athletes served on UISG board in 2019-20.
• Community Engagement – – During the spring semester, during COVID-19, Academic Services spearheaded a robot tour of Kinnick Stadium to children from the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
• Career Development – – This past summer Academic Services provided a virtual online career development experience through the Hawks to Professionals Program (H2P) via Iowa Courses Online (ICON). Student-athletes can complete career modules, receive resume assistance, and connect with professionals within their field of study.
• Health & Well-Being – – The Health & Well-Being Outreach Committee oversaw the implementation of the NCAA MyPlaybook module to all freshmen as part of their summer bridge program. Student-athletes received education about making smart choices pertaining to their mental and physical health.
• Dance Marathon – – Student-athletes raised over $2,000 for this initiative and provided an autograph event to help raise money for the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
• In 2019-20, Iowa ranked in the top 25 in home attendance for football and men’s and women’s basketball. Iowa has led the nation in wrestling home attendance for 14 straight seasons.
• Iowa led the nation in wrestling home attendance in 2019-20, setting an all-time record (12,568).
• Iowa ranked 10th in the nation in women’s basketball home attendance in 2019-20 (7,102).
• Iowa ranked 20th in the nation in football home attendance in 2019 (65,557).
• Iowa ranked 27th in the nation in men’s basketball home attendance in 2019-20 (12,357).
Barta’s involvement in the UI campus and the greater Iowa City community extends beyond his position as director of the UI’s Intercollegiate Athletics programs. He is a member of the President’s Cabinet, comprised of vice presidents and other campus leaders who provide counsel to the UI’s president.
Barta remains active at the conference and national levels. He serves on the NCAA DI Council and the CFP Selection Committee. He is serving as chairman of the CFP selection committee in 2020. Barta is also regularly involved in National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and LEAD1 (formerly known as the Division 1A Athletic Directors Association).
From a community standpoint, Barta recently served on the United Way of Johnson & Washington Counties Board of Directors. He is a long-standing member of the UI Partnership for Alcohol Safety Committee and has been a regular participant in numerous Chamber and Convention & Visitors Bureau initiatives during his tenure.
Barta earned a bachelor of science degree in mass communication and broadcast journalism from North Dakota State in 1987. He was an option quarterback for Bison football squads that won the Division II NCAA National Championship in 1983, 1985, and 1986.
Barta, and his wife, Connie, have a son, Luke (22), and a daughter, Madison (20). He was born September 4, 1963, in Minneapolis.