Barta working on 'retirement' contract for Kirk Ferentz

Mark Emmert

CHICAGO, Ill. — Iowa athletic director Gary Barta is working on a contract extension with Kirk Ferentz that he hopes brings his football coach all the way to retirement.

Barta said at Tuesday’s Big Ten Conference football media days that the deal hasn’t been finalized and he has no timeline for when it will be. Ferentz’s current contract, which pays a base salary of $4,075,000, expires in January 2020, when he will be 64.

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Barta said the two sides are looking for more than just a one-year rollover of that deal, but declined to be more specific about the length of the extension or whether it would involve a raise for Ferentz.

“In a perfect world, my desire — and I think Kirk would also concur — is to have him finish his career at Iowa. That’s the goal,” Barta said. “He’s proven that he loves Iowa. He’s proven that he can win at Iowa.”

Ferentz is entering his 18th season at the helm of the Hawkeyes, the longest-tenured coach in the Big Ten. Iowa is coming off a 12-2 season and a Rose Bowl appearance.

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On other topics Tuesday, Barta:

* Declined to say whether he considers himself a “public official” after a Monday Associated Press report that a state attorney is arguing that Barta is not. Assistant attorney general George Carroll, in a legal filing last week, claimed Barta is not a public official since he reports to UI president Bruce Harreld. The filing was in support of an attempt to dismiss a gender discrimination lawsuit by former senior associate athletic director Jane Meyer.

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“I’m a public figure without question,” said Barta, who is making $550,000 this year and is in charge of a $102 million athletics department budget. “I’m just going to let the attorneys answer that question. I’m not an attorney so I’m not going through the definitions.”

* Said Iowa remains open to scheduling a football game at a neutral site, as it has done twice in recent years in Chicago.

“We’re certainly looking at our future schedules,” Barta said. “We're taking a hard look at whether we could make it work.”

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To do so, Iowa would have to give up one of its seven annual home games, meaning the payout for the neutral-site game would have to approach what the Hawkeyes net at Kinnick Stadium.

Barta praised the success Iowa had at games in Chicago’s Soldier Field in 2007 and 2012. But he said he was also open to looking at other cities, such as Kansas City, where the Hawkeyes played in 2000. He also said that he would consider scheduling an 11th “Power Five” conference school in such a matchup, something that has not happened in previous years. The Hawkeyes already face nine Big Ten opponents plus in-state rival Iowa State, of the Big 12 Conference, each year.

“I’ll never say never,” Barta said.

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