Schwartz – 10 Sentences: Hawkeyes Just Want To Keep Up Edition

August 11, 2019

Written by David Schwartz

A final word for now on Gary Barta’s new contract, even as the Hawkeyes put the emphasis back on the field Saturday at Kids Day:

1. It’s been four days since the University of Iowa announced Iowa athletic director Gary Barta’s contract extension and 25 percent raise, but a little more needs to be said.

2. I left out something important when I wrote about the contract the other day, namely, the contribution of outgoing Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and Big Ten media contracts to the Hawkeyes’ financial success.

3. It can’t be overstated just how much Big Ten TV and other media contracts prop up Big Ten schools during an era of massive overspending by college athletic programs; or, if propping up is too strong a term, or perhaps unfair to the hard-working people who work in athletics fundraising, we can say “complement” or “assist.”

4. Whatever our lexical approach, we can agree that without the benefit of the Big Ten’s three-quarter-billion in revenue, the University of Iowa would be a MAC school.

5. (MAC schools are cool, but they don’t have Big Ten resources, even though they are comparable in size to multiple Big Ten institutions.)

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6. Being an athletic director in 2019 is complex, and while clearly no right-thinking person should excuse Barta for engaging in discriminatory practices – an act that might have gotten him fired from an institution that cares about treating people of all backgrounds fairly – logistically, he and his fellow college athletic directors have to worry about all sorts of junk that ADs of past eras, like Iowa’s Bump Elliott, didn’t have to.

7. Iowa’s football complex, which was paid for without taxpayer money, came to be via the fundraising efforts of Barta and his staff as well as other sources of revenue.

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8. It’s gorgeous, state of the art – and completely unnecessary; the Hawkeyes had a weight room before the complex existed, and it had meeting rooms and places to eat and practice and recover and whatever else, but college sports is a game of one-upmanship, and when it comes to recruiting a 17-year-old, sometimes they care more about the facilities of an institution than the heartbeat (meaning: their teammates, coaches, support staff, and the broader culture of a program).

9. It’s not enough for Barta to rally the alumni and attempt to schedule some cool nonconference games, which are important but not as important as in, say, 1991, because now, to steal a cliché, college athletics is as much about keeping up with the Joneses as it is making sure the practice jerseys get washed.

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10. And perhaps that – never letting Iowa fall behind the trends – is Barta’s greatest strength as an administrator; he pays attention, he manages revenue, he, like all effective managers, gives his employees the resources they need to succeed, and if that was the criteria to give him a raise that was eight times the federally calculated cost-of-living increase at a time when the State of Iowa claims state government should be cutting costs, well, fine – whatever.

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

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