Gary Barta, in his 12th year as the director of athletics at Iowa, will take a leave of absence to undergo surgery and treatment for prostate cancer.
Iowa confirmed Tuesday that the 54-year-old Barta will be away from his job for an undetermined length of time and that deputy athletic director Barbara Burke will run the Hawkeyes’ athletic department on an interim basis.
“Gary Barta will take an extended medical leave to undergo surgery and treatment for prostate cancer. He will return to work as soon as his health and recovery allow,’’ Iowa associate athletics director Steve Roe said.
Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz said during the weekly Big Ten teleconference that Barta informed him of the situation “a while back’’ and that the news caught him off guard.
“Gary seemed very confident about the prognosis going into it and was very optimistic,’’ Ferentz said “We are all wishing him the best and if there is anything we can do, we’re all here to help during his brief absence.’’
Barta is dealing with the second-most common form of cancer for American men. The American Cancer Society estimates that one in seven men are impacted, with more than 160,000 new cases diagnosed annually.
Ferentz has worked for Barta since 2006, when he was hired to succeed Bob Bowlsby as the director of athletics at Iowa.
“His transition into the job here was seamless and he has been great to work with since day one,’’ Ferentz said. “He doesn’t say yes to everything I ask and that’s how it’s supposed to work. One of the neat things about working here is the support we get from our administrators.’’
Barta arrived at Iowa from Wyoming, where he had worked as the director of athletics for four years. He had previously worked as a senior associate athletics director at Washington from 1996-2003 after spending seven years as the director of athletics development at Northern Iowa.
He was named by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics as one of its four 2015-16 national athletics directors of the year.
Burke, who previously worked with Barta at Wyoming, joined the Iowa staff in 2016 as a senior associate athletics director. She was promoted to her current role of deputy director of athletics in April when Gene Taylor left to become the director of athletics at Kansas State.
Since arriving at Iowa, her responsibilities have included sport administration and event management and working as the university’s senior women’s administrator in athletics.
Her duties include assisting in day-to-day operations of the football and men’s basketball programs, sport administration in a number of other programs as well as involvement in strategic planning and student-athlete code of conduct and discipline matters.
With more than 25 years of administrative experience, Burke arrived at Iowa from Tulane where she worked as the deputy athletic director after working from 2008-14 as the director of athletics at Eastern Illinois.