Gary Barta is in his 16th 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 third year as a member of the College Football Playoff (CFP) Selection Committee, serving his second year as committee chairman in 2021. He was appointed to the selection committee by the CFP Management Committee in February, 2019 and is serving a three-year term.
Despite the disruption of college athletics forced by the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2020-21 academic year, Iowa Athletics enjoyed a banner year of success across the board. Iowa earned its highest finish in the IMG Learfield College Director’s Cup since 1997.
The Hawkeyes claimed six Big Ten Conference championships, including wrestling (regular season and postseason), soccer (postseason tournament) women’s gymnastics (regular season), and men’s track, claiming both the indoor and outdoor championships. Six student-athletes were named Big Ten Athlete of the Year in their respective sports.
In addition, field hockey advanced to the Final Four, football earned a postseason bowl invitation (game was canceled), men’s basketball reached the second round of the men’s NCAA Tournament, and women’s basketball reached the Sweet 16 of the women’s NCAA Tournament. Soccer won its first ever NCAA Tournament game and the baseball and softball teams each placed fourth in the Big Ten, as did the women’s tennis team.
The Hawkeye wrestling team won the NCAA Championships along with its Big Ten title, and the men’s track team placed 12th nationally at the NCAA Championships, its highest finish since 1967.
2020-21 Hawkeye Athletics Highlights
Football: After narrow four and one point losses to open the season, Iowa football won six straight games to post an overall 6-2 record, all in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes were set to face Missouri in the Music City Bowl in late December before that event was canceled due to COVID-19.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz has earned 168 career victories at Iowa, becoming the winningest football coach in school history. Iowa’s win at Penn State was victory No. 100 in Big Ten play for Ferentz, who led his team to trophy game wins over Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.
Two Hawkeye players were named Player of the Year at their position in the Big Ten Conference, including unanimous consensus All-American defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon.
Wrestling: Iowa claimed the Big Ten regular season and postseason championships, followed by winning the NCAA Tournament. Spencer Lee earned a third individual national title. Lee was the winner of the Dan Hodge Trophy and was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Year. Head coach Tom Brands was named NWCA, InterMat, and Big Ten Conference Coach of the Year.
Men’s Basketball: Iowa was nationally ranked inside the top 15 all season, ascending as high as No. 3. Iowa earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, matching the highest seed in program history. Iowa’s 14 conference wins are the most in Big Ten play since 1987. The Hawkeyes won eight games against AP Top 25 opponents.
Individually, center Luka Garza was the consensus national Player of the Year and first-team All-American. Garza became Iowa’s all-time scoring leader with 2,306 points, which ranks seventh most in Big Ten history. Garza is the fifth Hawkeye under head coach Fran McCaffery to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors in the last eight seasons. McCaffery has guided Iowa to 20 wins or more in seven of the past nine seasons and upper-division Big Ten finishes eight of the past nine years.
Women’s Basketball: Head coach Lisa Bluder’s team posted a 20-10 overall record and an 11-8 mark in the Big Ten in 2020-21. Iowa made its 26th NCAA Tournament appearance, advancing to the program’s eighth Sweet 16. Freshman Caitlin Clark was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, consensus national Co-Freshman of the Year, consensus All-American, and Dawn Staley Award winner. Clark and junior Monika Czinano were first-team All-Big Ten selections. Bluder and her staff led Iowa to its 12th 20-win season over the last 14 seasons and 14th in Bluder’s tenure.
Field Hockey: Iowa advanced to the NCAA Final Four for the 12th time in program history, as Coach Lisa Cellucci was named Big Ten Conference Coach of the Year. Junior Anthe Nijziel was named Big Ten Player of the Year, Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, and earned All-Big Ten honors. Seniors Ellie Holley and Maddy Murphy also earned All-Big Ten recognition. Holley and Nijziel were named to the NCAA All-Tournament team and the trio were name All-Americans. Fifteen Hawkeyes were named to the Division I National Academic Squad – the most in program history.
Soccer: The women’s soccer team won the Big Ten Conference Tournament for the first time in school history, defeating each of the top three seeds. The Hawkeyes earned the automatic bid to the NCAA Championships, and defeated Campbell, 1-0, in the first round for their first-ever NCAA tournament victory.
Track & Field: The Iowa men’s track and field team won both the indoor and outdoor Big Ten Conference titles. The outdoor squad ended the season with a 12th place finish at the NCAA Championships, Iowa’s highest finish since 1967. Jaylan McConico was named Big Ten Athlete of the Year for outdoor track and head coach Joey Woody was named Big Ten and USTFCCCA Regional Coach of the Year in both the indoor and outdoor seasons. In women’s track, Laulauga Tausaga became a seven-time All-American and was runner-up at the NCAA Championships in discus. Track and field athlete Marissa Mueller was awarded a 2021 Rhodes Scholar, becoming just the second female ever at Iowa to earn that distinction.
Men’s Tennis: The Hawkeyes were led by individual accomplishments; Kareem Allaf became the program’s all-time wins leader with 164 combined singles and double victories and Will Davies tied the school’s all-time doubles benchmark with 71 victories. The doubles team of Oliver Okonkwo and Davies were ranked as high as No. 2 nationally, the highest ranking by a doubles team in school history. They became the seventh doubles team in program history to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
Women’s Tennis: Freshman Alexa Noel led the Hawkeyes to a fourth place finish in the Big Ten. Noel was named the Big Ten’s Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year. Noel won her first 24 matches of the season before falling in the second round of the NCAA Championships. Noel earned first-team All-America honors while being ranked as high as 13th nationally. She is the first All-American in program history.
Baseball: Iowa baseball posted a 26-18 record in the 2021 conference-only season to tie for fourth in the Big Ten. After a slow start the Hawkeyes claimed five straight series wins to improve to 18-12 in late April. Iowa owned the second-best fielding percentage (.977), posted the fourth-best ERA (4.68), and scored the fifth most runs (277) in the Big Ten. Iowa was led by Friday night starter and redshirt junior Trenton Wallace, who became the program’s first Big Ten Pitcher of the Year. Wallace and redshirt senior outfielder Ben Norman earned first-team All-Big Ten honors. Wallace and Norman earned ABCA/Rawlings Midwest All-Region first-team honors, with Wallace also becoming the ninth All-American (by Collegiate Baseball and the ABCA) under head coach Rick Heller.
Women’s Gymnastics: Women’s gymnastics posted a perfect 8-0 record to win its first Big Ten Conference regular season championship, while once again advancing to the NCAA Championships. The Hawkeyes posted four of the top nine scores in program history and highest national ranking, moving as high as No. 7 in the nation. Head coach Larissa Libby earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors, while Adeline Kenlin was named conference Freshman of the Year and three gymnasts earned first or second-team All-America honors.
Swimming & Diving: Iowa swimming and diving broke eight school records during the 2021 season, and the program had five NCAA Championships qualifiers. Academically, the program had 30 Academic All-Big Ten selections and eight athletes were named College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) All-Americans.
Softball: Head coach Renee Gillispie led the Hawkeyes to a 26-18 record and a fourth place finish in the Big Ten, Iowa’s highest finish since 2012. Senior pitcher Allison Doocy earned All-Region honors and two Hawkeyes newcomers were named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team.
Men’s Golf: Head coach Tyler Stith was named Big Ten Conference Coach of the Year after leading Iowa to a second place finish at the conference championships and Big Ten Match Play event. Iowa fell one stroke short at the spring championships while being led by individual champion Mac McClear. Senior Alex Schaake was voted Big Ten Co-Player of the Year for the second time (2019), and earned honorable mention All-America distinction by GolfWeek, while Schaake and McClear were each named first-team All-Big Ten and All-Midwest Region.
- Hawkeye student-athletes recorded an 89 percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR). UI student-athletes rank higher than the national average in GSR and 11 teams ranked at or above the previous year.
- Seven UI programs posted a perfect GSR score: women’s basketball, field hockey, women’s golf, men’s gymnastics, softball, women’s swimming, and volleyball.
- Hawkeye student-athletes had an average GPA of 3.18 during the 2020-21 fall semester and a 3.15 GPA in the spring. Iowa student-athletes have had an average GPA of over 3.0 the last seven years.
- 298 Iowa student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten recognition for the 2020-21 school year.
- 106 Big Ten Conference Distinguished Scholars.
- Over 420 student-athletes earned Dean’s List and President’s List honors.
- Track and field senior Marissa Mueller was named a 2021 Rhodes Scholar.
- Field Hockey: A program record 15 Hawkeyes were named to the Zag Field Hockey/NFHCA Division I National Academic Squad.
- Men’s & Women’s Cross Country: Teams were named 2020 United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Academic Team.
- Rowing: Amassed 26 spring 2020 Dean’s List honorees, with five earning President’s List Recognition.
- Soccer: Earned the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award after posting a 3.49 team GPA.
- 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: Five NWCA Scholar-Athletes and 13 Academic All-Big Ten honorees.
- Baseball had a school-record 19 Academic All-Big Ten selections.
- Softball: Five student-athletes earned Dean’s List honors during spring semester, 2021, while 12 earned Academic All-Big Ten recognition.
- Volleyball: Set a program record with 10 academic All-Big Ten selections in the fall of 2020. Fourteen student-athletes were named to the Dean’s list in the 2020-21 academic year.
- Men’s Tennis: Tied program record with six student-athletes earning Academic All-Big Ten accolades.
- Women’s Golf: Jacquelyn Galloway, Dana Lerner and Lea Zeitler were named Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) All-American Scholars. Stephanie Herzog, Manuela Lizarazu, Lilly Gentzkow, and Zeitler were named to the Dean’s List.
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.
- The Gerdin Athletic Learning Center re-opened for in-person meetings in August, 2020, following solely remote work during the spring and summer 2020. During the academic year, student-athletes completed ~30,000 hours of quiet study time, advising appointments, and tutorial sessions.
- 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. 2020-21 highlights:
- Diversity & Inclusion — 800+ student-athletes, coaches, staff, and administrators took part in DEI related programming during the 2020-2021 academic year. This included the annual Town Hall event discussing the topic of inclusive excellence, all staff meeting discussing the history of DEI at Iowa and specifically Iowa Athletics, and the unsportsmanlike conduct series dedicated to DEI and mental health.
- Leadership — Dance Marathon Fundraising – $1,800 ISAAC alone, but also collaborated with Athletics Marketing for the “Fan Cut Outs” program, resulting in over $12,000 total between the combined efforts.
- Five ISAAC student athletes participated in a virtual DM Athlete Hour and talked with families
- #B1GVote – Completed the 90% Challenge, voting discussions/talks, etc.
- Community Engagement — Week of Caring economic impact resulted in $4,352 being raised for local agencies and organizations, including Iowa City Animal Center, Ronald McDonald House, CommUnity Food Bank, Iowa City Community School District, and Coralville Central Elementary and Northwest Junior High School
- Career Development — Nearly 300 students attended career related events including a financial literacy series, Polk County I-Club senior recognition, graduate, and professional school fair, and one-on-one career counseling meetings. Academic Services created a H2P (Hawks to Professionals) ICON page which allowed students to participate in virtual career opportunities during the pandemic. 508 unique students have been active on the Icon page since it was made live in July 2020.
- Health & Well-Being — Featured speaker Victoria Garrick (former USC volleyball player) to discuss mental health and disordered eating/body image
- 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 currently serves on the CFP Selection Committee and has been named chair in 2021 for a second consecutive year. Barta is a member of the LEAD1 Board of Directors and just completed a multi-year term on the NCAA Division I Council. He is regularly involved in National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) events and activities.
From a state and local community standpoint, Barta has been a regular participant in numerous Chamber and Convention & Visitors Bureau initiatives during his tenure. He is a long-standing member of the UI Partnership for Alcohol Safety Committee and participated for several years on the United Way of Johnson and Washington Counties’ Board of Directors, including a term as chair. Barta also serves on the Iowa Sports Foundation Board of Directors.
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 (23), and a daughter, Madison (21). He was born Sept. 4, 1963, in Minneapolis.
Barta’s Administrative Career
|Henry B. and Patricia B. Tippie Director of Athletics Chair, Iowa||Aug. 1, 2006-Present|
|Athletic Director, Wyoming||2003-2006|
|Senior Associate A.D., Washington||1996-2003|
|Director of Athletics Development/External Relations, Northern Iowa||1990-1996|
|Associate Director of Development, North Dakota State||1988-1990|