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IOWA CITY — The dichotomy of Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta’s last year came to the ultimate head on Wednesday.
According to UI documents, Barta and UI President Bruce Harreld agreed to a five-year contract extension effective Jan. 1, 2016. Barta’s base salary will increase from $400,000 to $550,000 in July. The deal also guarantees $250,000 in annual deferred compensation. Both amounts increase by $50,000 in 2018.
Barta’s contract with Iowa was set to expire June 30, 2016.
While Iowa football climbed the rankings last fall, the UI athletics department also found itself in court with former employees in addition to a U.S. Department of Education investigation for alleged Title IX violations.
So, the news of a contract extension is up for your interpretation. There have been a lot of great accomplishments and a lot of lawyering up with Iowa athletics in the last year.
“Director Barta is a longtime member of the University of Iowa family and extending his contract was the right thing to do,” Harreld said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”
Also in his statement, Harreld pointed out Iowa’s NCAA 2015 Graduation Rate report, which reported Iowa set an “all-time best” Graduation Success Rate (GSR) score of 89 percent and added “Director Barta’s compensation reflects the current salaries across the Big Ten and other major athletic programs in the marketplace.”
Also in a statement, Barta said, “My family and I have been blessed to be back in Iowa these past 10 years. 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.”
Iowa football was a smash hit in 2015. Iowa men’s basketball also is on a run that could end up being historic.
Barta withstood a heavy dose of criticism and complaints from the Iowa fanbase when he decided after a disappointing 2014 football season — including a 7-6 record and losses in the final three games — to stick with head coach Kirk Ferentz.
That resolution paid off with Ferentz and the Hawkeyes rebounding to a 12-0 regular season, a school record for victories and Iowa’s first perfect season since 1922, Iowa’s first postseason appearance in the Big Ten championship game and the school’s first Rose Bowl since 1991.
In men’s basketball, the Hawkeyes are ranked No. 4 by the Associated Press and No. 6 by the USA Today coaches poll. The Hawkeyes were 20-5 heading into Wednesday night’s game at Penn State. Iowa is in first place in the Big Ten standings and in the running for the school’s first regular-season conference championship since 1979.
Off the field, the UI is facing criticism about gender discrimination from a former female coach and student-athletes.
Four UI field hockey players and former players filed a federal civil rights complaint in January 2015 against the UI alleging their rights to gender equity were violated when the UI fired coach Tracey Griesbaum in August 2014.
The women allege the UI fired Griesbaum for using the same coaching methods as male coaches and undermining the rights of female student athletes to receive a similar experience as their male counterparts.
Griesbaum has also filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission alleging discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.
The U.S. Department of Education has continued its investigation with the Iowa athletics department for alleged Title IX violations in connection with the Griesbaum firing. Also, Griesbaum’s partner, former UI senior associate athletics director Jane Meyer, was transferred from the athletics department to facilities last December and has filed a lawsuit accusing the school of gender discrimination and retaliation. Griesbaum also is expected to file a lawsuit.
The first hint of Barta’s standing with Harreld came during Iowa’s Rose Bowl trip to California.
Harreld told The Gazette of Barta and Ferentz: “They are long-term members of our family, and I intend to keep it that way.” He added that the two have “never been on thin ice with me.”
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