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UI athletic department officials unveil new strategic plan

BY DANIEL SEIDL | OCTOBER 04, 2013 5:00 AM

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Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta sums up the new five-year strategic plan with five simple words. “Win. Graduate. Do it right.”

While the UI is excelling in the “Graduate” area, the “Win” could use some work, Barta said.

“We spent a year working on it,” he said. “This is a living, breathing document.”

The plan is based on three different focuses: academic success, competitive success, and playing by the rules.

“We must keep all three of those legs with equal balance and attention,” Barta said at the Presidential Committee on Athletics meeting Thursday.

Barta said without this balance, the plan would fail.

Committee Chairman N. William Hines said there would be some room to change the plan if necessary.

“If it needs some tweaking … it can be adjusted,” Hines said.

As far as academic success of student athletes, Barta said, the UI is ahead of the game. Last year, the UI had a 77 percent graduation rate among student-athletes, a record for the school. The new strategic plan will focus on maintaining this high academic standard.

Jeff Cox, a UI professor of history and the head of the academic-achievement subcommittee, said he is hopeful about the new plan.

“I think the aspirations are good ones, and they show that the Athletics Department is dedicated to academic achievement,” Cox said.

He said that currently, student-athletes are only allowed to miss eight classes, because they have to keep focused on their studies.

The one leg of this plan that isn’t currently up to standards is the competitive aspect, Barta said.

“We have to graduate our student athletes, and we need to win [more] championships,” he said.

The Hawkeyes have historically been in the top 50 of the Learfield Directors Cup. While this is impressive, it still leaves the university near the bottom of the pack as far as the Big Ten is concerned. Barta hopes that the new strategic plan will help the UI move up on the ladder by providing more resources for athletes and faculty.

“I need [our coaches] to care deeply,” Barta said.


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