Iowa athletic director Gary Barta signs 5-year extension

Luke Meredith and Ryan Foley
Associated Press
Iowa athletic director Gary Barta signed a 5-year contract extension last month, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press

IOWA CITY, Ia. —  A big year from Iowa’s football and basketball teams means a big raise for athletic director Gary Barta from his new boss.

A document obtained by The Associated Press shows that Iowa President Bruce Harreld and Barta reached a five-year contract extension last month. It guarantees Barta $4.6 million in compensation through June 30, 2021.

The deal increases Barta’s base salary from $400,000 to $550,000 in July and nearly doubles his annual deferred compensation to $250,000. Both amounts will then jump by $50,000 in 2018.

Barta will remain eligible for up to $110,000 in annual bonuses for academic and athletic achievements spelled out in his earlier contract. But the new deal adds an additional $40,000 in potential bonuses based on whether he meets yearly goals established by Harreld, a former IBM executive who was hired as school president last fall.

In a statement, Harreld said Barta "is a longtime member of the University of Iowa family and extending his contract was the right thing to do. He and the entire athletics department are committed to the success of our student-athletes both on the field of play and in the classroom."

Harreld went on to cite Iowa's student-athlete Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 89 in 2015 as an all-time high for the school and that Barta's pay raise "reflects the current salaries across the Big Ten and other major athletic programs in the marketplace."

Barta, who took over for Bob Bowlsby in 2006, was considered embattled just a year ago after a few uninspired seasons from Iowa’s football team and a controversy surrounding the abrupt firing of a popular women’s field hockey coach.

Despite fan unrest, Barta stuck by longtime football coach Kirk Ferentz. Ferentz led the Hawkeyes to 12 wins and a Rose Bowl appearance, and Iowa heads into spring practice as the early favorite to repeat as Big Ten West champion.

Barta’s made his biggest hire, basketball coach Fran McCaffery, in 2010. McCaffery took the once-moribund program to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, and the Hawkeyes are currently atop the Big Ten and ranked fourth in the country.

Barta also helped oversee the fund-raising and construction of new facilities for the football and basketball programs, and his hiring of baseball coach Rick Heller revived that program.

Still, Barta has faced criticism of other personnel matters, including his firing of field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum and decision to reassign her partner, former senior associate athletic director Jane Meyer, outside the department.

Barta is facing serious leadership challenges in the months ahead, largely stemming from those cases.

Griesbaum is expected to join Meyer in filing a lawsuit in the coming days. The Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education is also investigating allegations that female student-athletes haven’t been offered equal opportunities during Barta’s tenure and is due to visit campus in April. Members of the field hockey team filed the complaints that led to the inquiry.

Barta is on the football team’s annual cruise with the coaching staff and fans and provided a statement about the news of his contract going public.

"My family and I have been blessed to be back in Iowa these past 10 years," Barta said. "We have incredible coaches, staff, student-athletes and fans. I'm grateful to Bruce Harreld for showing his confidence in us, and allowing us to be a part of his team going forward. The best is yet to come."

The Register's Chad Leistikow contributed to this report.