Education

Iowa's Gary Barta: Pay-for-play has 'unintended consequences'

Athletic director hopes there will be 'national solution'

University of Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta speaks Tuesday during a university Faculty Senate meeting at the Old Capitol in Iowa City. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
University of Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta speaks Tuesday during a university Faculty Senate meeting at the Old Capitol in Iowa City. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Hours after the NCAA took the first step Tuesday toward allowing college athletes to profit from use of their names and images, University of Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta told faculty on his campus he’s wary of “unintended consequences.”

Allowing collegiate athletes to sign deals with advertisers could strip away equality protections enforced through the federal Title IX gender equity requirement, Barta said. Those obligations, among other things, are what make college sports different from professional sports, he said.

“I’m glad we’re obligated,” he said. “It makes us special.”

To the concept of student athletes becoming more like university employees, Barta said, “That’s something I’m not supportive of at all.”

But with various states like California wading into the long off-limits realm of collegiate pay-for-play, members of the UI faculty Tuesday pressed Barta on what his resistance could mean for Iowa’s ability to compete for the best and most-coveted recruits.

“It’s my belief and goal that there will become a national solution to this question,” Barta said, noting no one wants a situation where every state has different rules. “I don’t believe that model is sustainable.”

Allowing some states to enact more liberal rules on the topic, while others resist, could prove to be a slippery slope away from the traditional collegiate model — about which Barta said he feels passionate.

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“The NCAA announced there is a desire to respond to student athlete needs in today’s environment, but not at the expense of education, the educational model, the collegiate model and keeping a difference between pro and college sports,” he said.

Barta also responded to questions about an Iowa law that took effect earlier this year allowing sports betting on both professional and collegiate sports, including the Iowa Hawkeyes.

He said the university has upped its athlete and staff education yet has concerns about those students who aren’t athletes themselves but work within athletics and have information about player injuries that could be of value to gamblers seeking inside information.

“It is something we’re concerned about and spending a lot of time and money on,” he said.

Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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