CHICAGO – Gary Barta met with reporters for about 18 minutes Thursday at the Big Ten Conference's media days; more than five of those minutes were spent fielding questions and discussing a recent survey sent to season ticketholders.
The Black & Gold Survey asked fans in various ways to rate, on a scale of 1 to 10, the importance of the athletic program's mantra of "Win, Graduate, Do It Right." The survey also asked fans to rank the importance of football vs. other sports.
The survey got some attention in some circles among fans and media wondering what about the point of the survey as it pertains to the football program. Here is what Barta had to say on the topic Thursday:
What was the goal in a survey like that?
"The survey that you're talking about is one of dozens of tools that we use. We're constantly wanting to know where our fans sit on all sorts of things.…
"The goal is just to continue to find out where our fans sit on all sorts of things. We want to know what they want for a hot dog and a soda. But we also want to know where they think we stand in terms of priorities."
"I don't at all apologize for the win, graduate and do it right. In fact, I believe in it strongly. And so do a lot of our fans. It got a lot of attention. But if you take it out of context, we're doing those types of things every single day. We do 25 tour stops on the I-Club. … The message is consistent and the same, and we're just trying to see where our fans sit on it. And also, there's a little bit of we want to get that brand out there; Win, graduate, do it right. We believe you have to do all three to be deemed successful."
What do you do with that information?
"My vision for that statement is a three-legged milking stool, and it sits in my office. All three of those are 10-10-10. It's a way to just keep reminding ourselves, if you just take your eye off the ball on any one of those, the stool tips over. So if you're not giving 10-10-10, it falls over"
"My only point is, it's not just about winning, even though the most attention that's paid on a daily basis to how we're doing or how a coach is doing, is winning. I accept that. I understand that. And I believe in that. But I also quietly, or boldly I guess in some cases, say, I want a 10 in academics and I want a 10 in doing things the right way. That isn't always the way things are portrayed in terms of who is on the hot seat, or who's doing well or who's not. So it's just a constant reminder to our staff, and to our fans, that we believe it's 10-10-10, and the stool is going to tip over if you don't pay equal attention."
Winning is the first thing that we see. Have you thought of ways to show you're doing it right or graduating?
"We try to do it every day. It doesn't get the same traction winning or losing gets. We put out information all the time; we bring students to talk about their community service. We do photo opps. We do stories. …
"We share information about it all the time. Maybe we should do more open photo opps. That's sort of a humility thing. Are you doing it because you want to get attention, or are you doing it because it's the right thing to do? It's a balancing."
"Graduation rates? Get me started or don't get me started. Our graduation rates are among the best in the country. And we're really proud of that. Does that get front-page headlines? No. Winning and losing gets front-page headlines. But we have the best graduation rate in the state, by far. We are among the best in the Big Ten — we're in the top three or four all the time, and we're proud of that."
If graduation and doing it right were 1-2, could that provide a built-in excuse (for not winning)?
"That's part of my point. The No. 1 measurement in perception is win and loss. That's the first thing people point at. When I tell people I'm evaluating a coach over the course of the season, I certainly want them to get a 10 in winning and losing; I want them to get a 10 in graduation; and I want them to get a 10 in doing things the right way. So if I do or don't make a change in coaching, it's based on all three of those: 10-10-10."