IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa athletic director Gary Barta is taking an extended medical leave to fight prostate cancer.
The school announced Tuesday that Barta is set to undergo surgery and he intends to return to “as soon as his health and recovery allow.” Deputy athletic director Barbara Burke will serve as the department leader in Barta’s absence.
The 54-year-old Barta has been Iowa’s director since 2006. In 2016, Barta received a contract extension through 2021.
Barta took over for current Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. Barta soon replaced basketball coach Steve Alford with Todd Lickliter, who lasted just three seasons before Barta brought in Fran McCaffery — who has since turned the Hawkeyes into a Big Ten contender.
Barta has also kept successful football coach Kirk Ferentz in Iowa City with a pair of extensions, and Iowa’s football and basketball facilities have undergone major upgrades during Barta’s tenure.
Barta also recently hired baseball coach Rick Heller, who has turned the once-moribund program into a consistent winner.
But Barta has had lower moments as well, most notably this spring when the Hawkeyes agreed to pay $6.5 million to settle discrimination lawsuits filed by former athletic administrator Jane Meyer and her partner, former women’s field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum.
Burke is a newcomer to Iowa, joining the program in July after assistant athletic director Gene Taylor left to become the director at Kansas State.
Burke, who once worked under Barta at Wyoming, was the athletic director at Eastern Illinois from 2008-14 and later a deputy director at Tulane before leaving for Iowa City.