Navy AD blunt about expectations for program, next coach

Getty Images

Navy is changing football coaches. What won’t be different – according to athletic director Chet Gladchuk – are the expectations for the program.

“Our objective has always been to win the Commander-In-Chief Trophy, which is reasonable,” Gladchuk said Monday. “And then No. 2, you win six games in the year, which essentially is the Commander-In-Chief Trophy and four games, gets us to six, which gets us in a bowl game. That has been the constant bar that we’ve strived for, is to achieve those two goals, which are I believe very realistic.”

Navy hasn’t achieved either of those goals since 2019, and now Ken Niumatalolo – the winningest coach in the academy’s history – is out of a job. That was announced Sunday, and Gladchuk spoke with reporters a day later to explain his thinking.

He was asked if he’d made it clear to Niumatalolo about the standard the coach needed to reach.

“I spoke directly to his representative, who asked me exactly that question,” Gladchuk said. “I conveyed it to him, and I also conveyed it, as I mentioned, for 20 years to the head coach every year.”

Hiring a new coach brings a lot of uncertainty to Navy, which went 109-83 in Niumatalolo’s 15 seasons. That included 10 bowl appearances.

Navy has won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy – awarded based on the games Navy, Army and Air Force play against each other – 11 times in the past 20 years. In Niumatalolo’s tenure, Navy won it six times, the most of any academy.

But Navy has gone just 4-10 against Air Force and Army in the past seven years, and the Midshipmen were 11-23 overall the past three seasons. That included a loss this year to FCS Delaware.

After a loss to Air Force last year, the status of longtime offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper was in limbo. Niumatalolo said Gladchuk decided to fire Jasper, but after further discussion, Jasper remained with the staff in his other role as quarterbacks coach.

There have been occasional promising signs – wins over Central Florida the past two years, for example – but the last game of Niumatalolo’s tenure was a double-overtime loss to Army in which both teams struggled to move the ball.

Any coaching change at Navy will raise questions about whether the program will stick to its triple-option offense. Gladchuk said the Midshipmen likely would.

“The triple option is really the fiber of who we are,” Gladchuk said. “I really think that the basic tenets of what is the chemistry of who we are revolves around the advantage that’s achieved with that style of offense. … I’m not necessarily saying the coach has got to be pure triple option … but the philosophies behind it are really important.”

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

1 Comment

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.