Timeline of Gary Barta's tenure as Iowa athletic director

Dargan Southard
Des Moines Register

Iowa athletics director Gary Barta announced his retirement Friday, ending a 17-year tenure that featured plenty of success but also significant off-the-field issues.

His tenure has been a seesawing one, filled with some solid coaching hires and football consistency but also several lawsuits that have drawn plenty of scrutiny.

Here's a timeline of noteworthy happenings under Barta's watch:

August 2006: Gary Barta hired as Iowa athletics director

Gary Barta officially took over the Hawkeyes athletics department on Aug. 1, 2006, replacing the departing Bob Bowlsby after he was hired as Stanford's AD.

More:Gary Barta announces retirement after 17 years as Iowa athletics director

April 2007: Gary Barta hires men's basketball coach Todd Lickliter

The first significant hire of Barta's tenure came eight months after he took the job, as he hired men's basketball coach Todd Lickliter on April 3, 2007, after his successful stint at Butler. Lickliter's tenure, though, was a disaster after going 38-58 over three seasons. He was fired on March 15, 2010.

March 2010: Gary Barta fires Todd Lickliter, hires Fran McCaffery

Two weeks after firing Lickliter, Barta made one of his more successful hires in plucking Fran McCaffery away from Siena. McCaffery was introduced on March 29, 2010. Since then, McCaffery has gone 261-176 with seven NCAA Tournament appearances over 13 seasons.

More:Leistikow: The complicated legacy of Iowa AD Gary Barta and who should replace him

September 2010: Gary Barta gives football coach Kirk Ferentz a 10-year extension

Following an 11-win season with an Orange Bowl appearance in 2009, Ferentz received a huge 10-year contract extension through 2020.

"I've said publicly, and privately to Kirk, that it would be my goal to have him retire at Iowa," Barta said in a statement after the announcement. "This contract is a statement supporting that commitment."

July 2013: Gary Barta hires baseball coach Rick Heller

After an extended run of futility under Jack Dahm, Barta made the move to hire Heller from Indiana State on July 12, 2013. It was a lengthy search and one that drew criticism at the time, but Heller arguably has been Barta's most successful hire. In the middle of his 10th season, Heller has piled up more than 300 wins at Iowa with two regional appearances (and a third one coming this season), plus the program's first Big Ten Tournament title in 2017. Before Heller, Iowa's last NCAA Tournament berth was 1990.

More:Social media reacts to Gary Barta's retirement announcement as Iowa athletics director

July 2014: Gary Barta hires track-and-field coach Joey Woody

Although who Barta fired may be remembered more than who he hired, elevating assistant Joey Woody to director of track and field/cross country in July 2014 was one of Barta's most successful moves. Woody is a four-time Big Ten coach of the year and a six-time USTFCCCA regional coach of the year.

August 2014: Gary Barta fires field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum

Despite a 169-107 career record and 22 years of service to the university, Griesbaum was fired in August 2014 for what Barta said was a pattern of complaints of abusive behavior by Griesbaum toward her players. An internal university review had found no policy violations by Griesbaum. The fallout from this decision was monumental. Griesbaum eventually sued for wrongful termination, and her partner — former Iowa senior associate AD Jane Meyer — was reassigned and ultimately terminated.

September 2014: Iowa officially moves into Stew and LeNore Hansen Football Performance Center

Barta led the way on Iowa's $55 million football facility, which includes new team locker rooms — 130 lockers in all — team meeting rooms, a players' lounge, coaches' offices and meeting rooms and 22,500 square feet of strength and conditioning space. 

January 2016: Under Gary Barta's watch, Iowa settles discrimination lawsuit with former assistant men's track coach Mike Scott

It was announced on Jan. 27, 2016, that Iowa would pay nearly $200,000 to Mike Scott and his attorneys to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit alleging Scott was passed over for a job because administrators wanted a woman.

September 2016: Gary Barta rewards Kirk Ferentz with another 10-year contract

Announced on Sept. 6, 2016, Ferentz's new deal ran through 2025 worth $49.5 million. The contract included: a raise of nearly $500,000 this season, to $4.5 million, a salary that according to USA TODAY would’ve ranked eighth nationally among FBS coaches in 2015. The contract increases his pay by $100,000 each year, meaning he's scheduled to make $5.4 million (before bonuses) for the 2025 season. His bonuses would max out at $2.925 million (including a new one: $500,000 for every eight-win season).

May 2017: Under Gary Barta's watch, Iowa dishes out $6.5 million in discrimination cases

With discrimination lawsuits from Meyer and Griesbaum lurking overhead, Iowa doled out $6.5 million to cover both over the course of two weeks in May 2017. Iowa agreed to pay Griesbaum $1.5 million for her wrongful termination lawsuit, while Meyer won $2.3 million when jurors ruled in her favor on all five elements of her lawsuit (gender and sexual orientation discrimination, retaliation and whistleblower violations, and unequal pay). Iowa also paid $2.7 million to the Des Moines law firm that represented both Meyer and Griesbaum.

August 2019: Iowa finishes north end zone renovations inside Kinnick Stadium

Barta oversaw the $89 million project that began late in 2017 and was officially completed ahead of the 2019 football campaign. Although Iowa fans had to sit through the 2018 season with the renovations on schedule but still not completed, the upgrade has been met with much positivity.

August 2020: Gary Barta announces the elimination of men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s gymnastics and men’s tennis

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic following the Big Ten's initial announcement that it would not play a 2020 football season, Barta announced the elimination of men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s gymnastics and men’s tennis on Aug. 21, 2020. The move was met with plenty of criticism and eventually led to a Title IX lawsuit.

February 2021: Gary Barta, Iowa forced to reverse elimination decision on women's swimming

Under pressure stemming from Barta's lawsuit history and with another looming, Iowa reversed the decision to eliminate women's swimming on Feb. 15, 2021.

"It's going to take a long time to see the full repercussions of what happened ... But we showed that the little guy can win. The little guy can stand up to an organization like the University of Iowa and come away a winner," former Iowa swimmer Sage Ohlensehlen said after the decision. "And I think this is a huge bonus point for women in athletics."

June 2021: Iowa approves beer, wine sales at Kinnick Stadium and other Iowa venues

A pilot program introduced alcohol sales at Iowa athletics events inside Kinnick Stadium, Carver-Hawkeye Arena (predominantly basketball and wrestling), Duane Banks Field (baseball) and Bob Pearl Field (softball) for the 2021-22 school year.

At the time, Iowa became the eighth Big Ten school to sell alcohol at games.

March 2023: Under Gary Barta's watch, Iowa dishes out $4 million in Iowa football discrimination lawsuit

A $4.175 million settlement agreement was reached March 6 in the lawsuit filed by a group of Black former University of Iowa football players who accused coach Kirk Ferentz of overseeing a racially discriminatory culture.

The UI initially planned to use taxpayer funds to cover part of the cost. But the school eventually backtracked on that and shouldered the entire lawsuit tab, after Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand said he would vote against using taxpayer funds for the settlement unless Barta was fired.

The settlement ended the legal chapter of what became a national news story on June 5, 2020, when dozens of former players used social media to share their stories of alleged mistreatment under the watch of Ferentz, the longest-tenured active coach at college football's top level.

The outcry led to the ousting of longtime strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle through a $1.1 million separation agreement and an outside investigation led by law firm Husch Blackwell, which found that “the program’s rules perpetuated racial or cultural biases and diminished the value of cultural diversity.”

Dargan Southard is a sports trending reporter and covers Iowa athletics for the Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com.