Win. Graduate. Do It Right.

Barta’s philosophy lays the foundation for University of Iowa Athletics

IOWA CITY- The athletic director at the University of Iowa, Gary Barta, sees success in three elements: Win, Graduate, and Do It Right.

With over 30 years of experience in collegiate athletics, Barta’s culminated ideas and observations have led him to this philosophy. When he took over as athletic director in 2006, Iowa had a reputation for caring for all three elements.

Barta’s job as athletic director is misinterpreted by some. He said that the media focuses on the “Win,” element.

“I am held accountable to all three elements,” Barta said.

For example, student-athletes who doesn’t present themselves properly in the community reflect poorly on the department.

Barta described his philosophy as a three-legged stool used, each element being a leg. If one leg isn’t there, the stool tips. There isn’t one that is more important than the other, all should carry equal weight.

The process of implementing this philosophy starts at the top, but all coaches and staff must be on board. This is when student-athletes buy in because their coach isn’t just pushing them to win, but also to do well academically and socially.

High school athletes who are interested in playing at Iowa must value all three elements. If the only element they value is winning, then they likely aren’t a good fit for Iowa athletics. Barta said that athletes can fake the other two, but once they get on campus they won’t fit because their coaches will be pushing all three elements.

On the topic of recruits, Barta said they may not all be straight A-students, or be a 5-star athlete, but they have their eyes on putting 100 percent into the three elements.


When evaluating Iowa’s high profile sports records since 2013, Iowa Football has been top four in the Big Ten Conference. Iowa Men’s Basketball has been top six in the conference.

“If teams are in the top half of the conference, there is at least a chance that they win a championship,” Barta said.

In fact, Barta said, “The goal is to win a championship.”


Yes, the goal is obtaining a degree, but that is the minimum, Barta said. Last year’s graduation rate was 90 percent, and Barta was proud to share that.


Barta said it simple, “Don’t cheat, no cutting corners.”

Meaning follow the rules that are put forth by the NCAA. But this element isn’t limited to following the rules; it’s the student-athletes volunteering in the community, and learning how to be a good contributor to society after they graduate.

That led to Barta sharing “Today’s Hawkeyes are tomorrow’s leaders.”

When a student leaves the University of Iowa, they will have won, earned a degree from an accredited university, and be a good contributor to society. That is the goal of this philosophy.

As social media continues to grow, the fans react when Iowa doesn’t win, and they criticize this philosophy.

But Barta had this to say to critics: “It’s who we are.”


Posted in JRW