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IOWA CITY — Exactly one month after the job was posted, the University of Iowa hired North Dakota State athletics director Gene Taylor as its deputy athletics director.
Taylor, 56, has served as NDSU’s athletics director the last 13 years. He guided the school in its transition from Division II to Division I and presided over one of the most successful Football Championship Subdivision athletics departments. North Dakota State has won the last three Football Championship Subdivision titles and has posted a 7-3 record against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents. That includes last year’s season-opening win at defending Big 12 champion Kansas State.
At Iowa, Taylor will supervise the athletics department’s day-to-day operations, several sports programs and become the primary decision-maker when Athletics Director Gary Barta is unavailable. Other duties include serving as Barta’s primary adviser, overseeing the department’s strategic plan and heading the athletics department’s financial, information technology and human resources operations. His first day will be Aug. 4.
“My goal personally and professionally has always been to be an athletic director at the BCS level,” Taylor said in an emotionally filled news conference Monday morning. “Gary Barta has become a friend and a mentor. He started talking to me several months ago about the position he may create. In talking, I do want to be a BCS athletic director someday. I had that when I was at Arizona State (as a student).”
Iowa posted the position on May 16 and conducted four interviews. It’s the first step of a likely reshuffling of Iowa’s upper management structure over the next few years. Former associate athletics director Mark Abbott, who was in charge of legal affairs, retired a few months ago. Other key administrators are approaching retirement ago, which made this hire essential, Barta said in a statement.
“Mark’s retirement, paired with the plans of other senior staff approaching retirement age and the shifting landscape of intercollegiate athletics at the conference level and nationally, provided a window of opportunity to evaluate how we are currently structured administratively and to envision the best structure for the UI Athletics Department moving forward,” Barta said.
“The creation of the deputy director position was the first next step in this process. Gene’s experience and expertise are exactly what I was looking for as we position ourselves for success in the future.”
Barta is on vacation this week and unavailable for comment.
Taylor touted Iowa’s values as similar with his own. In a quest to become athletics director of a high-major institution, Taylor conceded that this step was essential.
“In talking to Gary he said, ‘Gene, I want you to come here and be here for five to eight years,” Taylor said. “But he said, ‘If you’re here, give me two at a minimum and I want some somebody who’s goal is to be a BCS athletic director.”
Taylor has worked as an athletics administrator for 28 years, including 15 at the United States Naval Academy before joining NDSU. Taylor is a 1980 graduate of Arizona State University. In 1985, he earned a master of science degree in sports administration from St. Thomas University in Miami, Fla.
Taylor and his wife, Cathy, have two children: a 19-year-old daughter, Casey, who is a sophomore at North Dakota State and manager of the men’s basketball team; a 16-year-old son, Jared, will be a sophomore in high school.
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