IOWA CITY, Ia. — The process that put Gary Barta onto the most prestigious committee in college sports transpired quickly.
The Iowa athletics director was approached by the Big Ten Conference at the NCAA Convention in Orlando, Florida, in late January. Now, after being nominated and confirmed, he’s the league’s lone representative on the College Football Playoff Committee.
“It’ll be a lot of work,” Barta, 55, told assembled Iowa media members prior to the Hawkeyes’ Sunday basketball game against Northwestern. “I now have the opportunity to tell my wife that I have to watch more football.”
He joins a 13-member committee that includes athletics directors, former college coaches like Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer and NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, among others.
Barta’s new role is an extra, unpaid position. It's a three-year term. All part of being an athletics director, he said. But he’ll have a significant and scrutinized voice, one that the rest of the Big Ten is counting on. The conference has been shut out of the four-team playoff in each of the past two years.
He replaces Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith — who, as part of the committee, would have to recuse himself when talk of the Buckeyes came up.
The role means more traveling, and Barta feels good about leaving his day-to-day duties to a senior staff he’s worked to assemble over the past few years. He also wouldn’t mind having to watch the Hawkeyes on TV if Kirk Ferentz’s team makes the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis.
“I understand the commitment. That goes back to Kirk’s leadership and longevity and experience (in football). Barbara Burke, as deputy A.D., works directly with football. We have a great senior staff,” Barta said. “I understand that if we had that opportunity, not only will I not be at that game, I’d love the opportunity to recuse myself in a meeting if it came to that.”