IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa athletics director Gary Barta stood proudly by the side of women's basketball coach Lisa Bluder as she watched a stirring video tribute of former players and assistant coaches who offered congratulations on her 700th coaching victory.
As each person came on the screen following the Hawkeyes' 83-67 victory Friday against Qunnipiac at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Barta said Bluder was ticking off details of what each was doing in her professional life.
“She cares so much about those young women," Barta said. "Not only having success in basketball, but leaving with a degree.”
Bluder's hiring at Iowa came April 7, 2000 — by then-A.D. Bob Bowlsby, six years before Barta's arrival. But with high graduation rates, consistent winning and little off-court drama, Bluder has been an exemplary coach who checks all the boxes in his "win, graduate, do it right" motto.
She is a three-time Big Ten Conference coach of the year and took Iowa to the Sweet 16 in 2015.
“I was teasing her down there, I think I’ve handed her winning balls three or four times since I’ve been here," Barta said of Iowa's winningest coach (Bluder has 344 here). "I’ll never get tired of it.
“She’s the full package. And she’s a great role model for women. In a profession that often times is stereotyped to have a lot of male domination, she’s a great role model of what a leader is. You can be a wonderful, strong female leader.”