Liberty hires Coastal Carolina’s Chadwell to replace Freeze

David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports
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Liberty has hired Coastal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell, a former college quarterback known for his innovative approach to offense, to replace Hugh Freeze as the Flames’ coach.

The school in Lynchburg, Virginia, introduced Chadwell at a news conference Sunday. Freeze left Liberty after four years to accept the same position at Auburn.

Chadwell was the AP’s Coach of the Year in 2020. He guided the Chanticleers to new heights over the past three seasons, leading them to a 31-6 record and a third consecutive bowl game. The Chants appeared at No. 23 in the AP Top 25 two weeks ago but lost 47-7 at James Madison in their regular-season finale with starting quarterback and three-time Sun Belt player of the year Grayson McCall sidelined.

They lost again Saturday, with McCall back in the lineup, 45-26, to Troy in the Sun Belt Conference championship game. Chadwell’s overall record at Coastal is 39-22.

“To have the opportunity to take this football program to the next level in Conference USA, to compete for conference championships, starting in 2024 we’re going to start competing for the CFP,” Chadwell said, referring to the College Football Playoff. “That’s our ultimate goal. Everything that we do will be working towards that.”

Chadwell, who also has guided programs at North Greenville, Delta State and Charleston Southern and has a career mark of 99-57 as a head coach, noted that his record against the Flames was 3-1 at Charleston Southern.

“We’re certainly excited to have him, and we’re certainly excited to match him with our players and our facilities and resources,” Liberty athletic director Ian McCaw said. “We think some really special things can happen.”

At Charleston Southern, Chadwell was suspended for one game in 2016 by the university for violating NCAA social media rules regarding improper contact with recruits. He left after the season for an assistant’s job at Coastal Carolina, and a year later Charleston Southern was forced to vacate 18 victories over a two-year period for NCAA violations.

The Flames’ job undoubtedly became more attractive after four seasons under Freeze.

Liberty was ranked for a time in the AP Top 25 this year, winning eight of its first nine games, including a home rout of BYU and a road win at Arkansas, but closed the season with three straight losses, the last by 49-14 to New Mexico State after news broke that Freeze likely was leaving.

The Flames will make their fourth bowl appearance in a row this year – they have won the first three – and are moving to Conference USA next season. They face Toledo in the Boca Raton Bowl on Dec. 20.

Coastal Carolina, meanwhile, will face East Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl on Dec. 27.

Georgia extends contract for AD Josh Brooks, plans two new football practice fields


ATHENS, Ga. – On the heels of a second straight national football championship, Georgia has rewarded athletic director Josh Brooks a contract extension that ties him to the Bulldogs through at least 2029.

The athletic association board, wrapping up its annual spring meeting Friday at a resort on Lake Oconee, also announced plans for a new track and field facility that will free up space for two more football practice fields.

Brooks’ new contract will increase his salary to $1.025 million a year, with annual raises of $100,000.

The 42-year-old Brooks, who took over the athletic department in 2021 after Greg McGarity retired, called the Georgia job “a dream for me” and said he hopes to spend the rest of his career in Athens.

“I am extremely grateful,” Brooks said. “I got into this business 20-plus years ago as a student equipment manager. My first job at Louisiana-Monroe was making $20,000 a year in football operations.”

The Georgia board approved a fiscal 2024 budget of $175.2 million, a nearly 8% increase from the most recent budget of $162.2 million and the sign of a prosperous program that is flush with money after its success on the gridiron.

The school received approval to move forward with its preliminary plans for a new track and field facility, which will be built across the street from the complex hosting the soccer and and softball teams.

The current track stadium is located adjacent to the Butts-Mehre athletic facility, which hosts the practice fields and training facilities for the football program.

Georgia lost a chunk of its outdoor fields when it built a new indoor practice facility. After the new track and field stadium is completed, the current space will be converted to two full-length, grass football practice fields at the request of coach Kirby Smart.

“He wants to find efficient ways to practice, and there is a lot of truth to the issues we’ve had with our current practice fields,” Brooks said. “There is a lot of strain on our turf facilities staff to keep that field in great shape when half the day it is getting shade, so that has been a challenge as well. For our football program, it is better to practice on grass fields than (artificial) turf, so to be able to have two side-by-side grass fields is huge. It makes for a much more efficient practice.”

The new track and field complex, which will continue to be named Spec Towns Track, will also include an indoor facility, the first of its kind in the state of Georgia.

Iowa AD Gary Barta announces retirement after 17 years at Big Ten school

Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa athletic director Gary Barta will retire on August 1 after 17 years at the university, the school announced Friday.

Barta, 59, is one of the longest-tenured athletic directors in a Power Five conference. He was hired by Iowa in 2006 after being the AD at Wyoming.

An interim director will be announced next week, Iowa said.

In September, Iowa hired former Ball State athletic director Beth Goetz to be deputy director of athletics and chief operating officer, putting her in position to possibly succeed Barta.

“It has been an absolute privilege and honor to serve in this role the past 17 years,” Barta said in a statement. “This decision didn’t come suddenly, nor did it come without significant thought, discussion, and prayer.”

“That said, I’m confident this is the right time for me and for my family.”

Iowa won four NCAA national team titles and 27 Big Ten team titles during Barta’s tenure. The women’s basketball team is coming off an appearance in the national championship game and the wrestling team is coming off a second-place finish at the NCAA championships.

Barta served as the chairman of the College Football Playoff committee in 2020 and 2021.

He faced heavy criticism over more than $11 million in settlements for lawsuits in recent years alleging racial and sexual discrimination within the athletic department.

Lawsuits filed by former field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum and associate athletics director Jane Meyer led to a $6.5 million payout.

Iowa had to pay $400,000 as part of a Title IX lawsuit brought by athletes after it cut four sports in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the agreement, Iowa reinstated the women’s swimming and diving program and add another women’s sport.

Iowa added women’s wrestling, the first among Power Five schools to compete this year.

A lawsuit brought by former football players alleging racial discrimination within the program was settled for $4.2 million last March, which prompted state auditor Rob Sand to call for Barta’s ouster.

“Gary Barta’s departure is a long time coming given the four different lawsuits for discrimination that cost Iowa more than $11 million,” Sand posted on Twitter.

The university did not allow taxpayer money to be used for the settlement with the former players.

Barta led Iowa through $380 million of facility upgrades, including renovation of Kinnick Stadium, the construction of a new football facility, a basketball practice facility and a training center for the wrestling teams.

Under Barta, Iowa has had just one head football coach (Kirk Ferentz), women’s basketball coach (Lisa Bluder) and wrestling coach (Tom Brands). All were in place when he arrived.

Barta has also come under scrutiny for allowing Ferentz to employee his son, Brian Ferentz, as offensive coordinator. To comply with the university’s nepotism policy, Brian Ferentz reports to Barta.