Iowa Hawkeyes getting close to filling out 2020-21 football schedules

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa is close to filling out its 2020 and 2021 nonconference football schedules, athletic director Gary Barta said Thursday, and those games will be contested at Kinnick Stadium, not at neutral sites.

The Hawkeyes have one game to secure on their 2020 slate and two for 2021. The intra-state rivalry with Iowa State, which will be played Saturday in Ames, is on the docket through at least 2023.

“I will never say forever,” Barta said when asked if the Cy-Hawk game is a permanent part of Iowa’s schedule. “One of the great things about college athletics is rivalries. I think it’s good for the state that the two of us play. There’s some disadvantages in our case because we’re in different conferences.

“Through 2023, we’ll keep playing. (After that), your guess is as good as mine.”

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta oversees a budget in excess of $100 million, but has struggled to turn a profit in recent years.

An increasing number of major-college football teams are scheduling neutral-site games against their peers in NFL stadiums, most recently with Wisconsin and Notre Dame announcing plans to play in 2020 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay and in 2021 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

“Those are intriguing possibilities,” Barta conceded, but said it’s unrealistic for the Hawkeyes to follow suit at this time with nine Big Ten Conference games plus the meeting with the Cyclones already on their 12-game schedule.

More Hawkeyes coverage: 

Iowa’s goal is to have seven revenue-generating home games each season. In even years, the Hawkeyes host Iowa State and four league games. In odd years, Iowa travels to Iowa State but offsets that with five Big Ten home contests. That means its other two nonconference games also must be held in Iowa City each year to reach the goal.

In 2018, the Hawkeyes are scheduled to host Northern Illinois and Northern Iowa. The 2019 nonconference opponents are slated to be Miami of Ohio and Middle Tennessee State. Iowa has Northern Illinois in line for another game for 2020, but has no nonconference opponents other than Iowa State scheduled beyond that.

Barta said he is hopeful contracts for games in 2020 and 2021 will be signed soon.

On other topics Thursday, Barta said:

  • Football coach Kirk Ferentz approached him with the idea of reducing his salary by $50,000 this year in order to pay for additional staff. Ferentz’s contract was amended this summer to forego half of the normal $100,000 hike in his base salary.

“Kirk and I sit down and talk about his budget every year. It’s not an unlimited amount of money. There were some things that he wanted to do and he offered that,” Barta said.

“I don’t anticipate that will be a regular practice. The budget was really already established and that was a creative solution, but a one-time solution.”

  • He was aware that Ferentz intended to issue a formal response to recent accusations by former ESPN football announcer Ed Cunningham that Ferentz had been negligent in letting quarterback C.J. Beathard play through a hamstring injury during January’s Outback Bowl. Ferentz on Tuesday called Cunningham’s claims “insulting.”

“I thought his response spoke all we needed to say,” Barta said of Ferentz’s rebuttal.

  • Discussions are ongoing among NCAA members to find a better way to handle athletes who want to transfer. Barta said the goal is to come up with a fair way to address the issue in all sports, although basketball tends to dominate the national conversation.

“It should be academically motivated. It should be student-athlete-friendly to the best of its ability. And it should be more consistent across sports,” said Barta, who anticipates that rule changes will occur, although he wasn’t sure how soon. There is no formal proposal yet.

  • University president Bruce Harreld will decide how to spend the proceeds from a $5 million endowment the athletic department received this summer from longtime donors.

The money is being used to establish the Henry B. and Patricia B. Tippie Director of Athletics Chair, making Iowa the third Big Ten school to have such an arrangement. The $5 million goes into the Henry Fund, which is managed by Iowa business students with oversight by a professor. The revenue those students generate from investments will go to Barta’s department each year. A typical yield is 5 percent.

“As expenses go up, revenue has to go up. An endowment allows for there to be a perpetual revenue stream,” Barta said. “It doesn’t have to go to my salary (currently $550,000 a year). President Harreld will decide where the investment goes. It will go toward something related to the athletic director. And most often it’s related to bonuses or salary.”

Endowments are becoming a common funding mechanism in college sports, and not just for athletic scholarships (Iowa has $50 million endowed for those). Barta said Iowa men’s tennis coach Ross Wilson and women’s tennis coach Sasha Schmid had their positions recently endowed, and that there are other such possibilities in the works for Hawkeye coaches.