Q: (A question on a Facebook)
Gary Barta: A high percentage, 90%, 80%, 99% is positive, people are using it to communicate. W hat our student athletes are still trying to figure out is how you make you sure you don't abuse it. That's where our education comes in, in working with our student athletes, we're trying to figure out how to deal with it, so are our student athletes.
Q: Would you let your coaches deal with it on a sport- by-sport basis?
Barta: We're having a lot of conversations, AD/administrator to coaches, and we haven't made any final decisions because it's so new. Right now, our position has been that it's a public venue, therefore we tell you what we expect of you in public. That includes social networking. That's where we're at.
Q: Do you need to find a 24/7 person?
Barta: I hope not.
Q: It is out there. Even if you guys aren't 24/7, the net is.
Barta: I sure hope not. I hope life doesn't come to that. Is ay that because we can't legislate morality. We have to double back and make sure we're bringing coaches we trust, student athletes we trust, and then let them be adults. They're young adults, but they are adults. We are at an institution of higher learning. It is an educational opportunity. When someone makes a mistake, consistency and fairness, we deal with it and move on. One of our goals is to win, one of our goals is to do the things the right way, the other goal is to send leaders out into the community. One of the ways to mature and become a leader is to learn on your own. That might be a fluffy answer to what you're asking, but I don't want to hire someone to follow them around.
Q: Are you concerned about some of the fan reaction, the overwhelming shock?
Barta: One of the reasons I was excited to come back to this place, come back to this job, is I know how passionate Iowans are about the Hawkeyes. When something good happens, they're passionate and cheering and it's amazing. When something bad happens, it hurts, because they've invested so much passion. I understand the reaction. The naivety, I think we all have some of that. This thing called social networking, Facebook, MySpace, is so new. We're all going to have to learn together. It doesn't surprise me because when judgments are made that are poor, it hurts. We're Hawkeye fans.
Q: Talk a bit about the range of emotions you had this week, personally? How did that transition go?
Barta: Anger was probably the first one. It always catches you off guard with a little surprise. Then disappointment, then OK, once you get through those, it becomes more strategic, where do we go from here? Sometimes they revisit, sometimes the anger comes back. This isn't just Gary the AD, it's Kirk the Coach, the players, our new president, Sally Mason, she's been kept abreast during this whole thing, and is very supportive of how we're handling it. We all feel those emotions.
Q: It seems like players are just one cell phone camera away from causing a ruckus. What is that atmosphere like for student athletes?
Barta: When you come to Iowa City, the beauty is when you do good things, when you do well on the field, you'll get all sorts of accolades and praise. It is a fishbowl. Maybe the fishbowl has become bigger and clearer, there are just more opportunities, if you make a poor decision, it's going to be elevated. It's just a sign of the times, we just have to continue to educate. I know I keep saying that, but it's real.
Q: What do you do differently though? The fishbowl is constant. What do you have to do to be more vigilant? Every week instead of at the start of camp? Now you have a concrete example.
Barta: I think as difficult as this week as been, don't misquote me and don't misunderstand me, it's been difficult, the positive side, if there is a glass-half-full response, if there is one, is that we've used it to educate and re-educate. The vast majority of our student athletes aren't involved in this. We've used this to remind what we've been telling them over and over, and that is that if you make a poor decision, it's going to hurt you, your teammates, and the university. We all care so much, you don't want to put us all through that. We used it as an educational tool this week. What else can we do? We've just got to keep working harder at it. When a decision, a poor decision, is made, we have to discipline it. Our discipline has to be swift, fair, and consistent. That's where we're headed whenever something like this happens.
Q: The things that are out there publicly, do you feel comfortable with Dominique and Anthony representing the University of Iowa?
Barta: I don't want to say any particular student athlete. I've seen several pictures this week that, in Gary Barta's world, I'm uncomfortable with. What we have to do as an institution is remind student athletes that they're representing us every time they're in public, then deal with, individually, on a case-by-case basis, if we feel someone has stepped over a line, deal with it.
Q: You've been there, a recognizable athlete on your own campus...
Barta: That's so flattering, how do you know that?
Q: Do you have maybe a bit more empathy or insight?
Barta: I think if we all look back to moments in our life around that time period, we all made poor decisions. Most of them don't get to being arrested, but I think back to when I was a student athlete, did I make some poor decisions? Yes., Fortunately none of them turned into and arrest. At least it gives you an understanding, we've all been there, it doesn't make it right, it doesn't mean consequences won't be significant or whatever they're going to be. At least you understand what they're going through.
Q: Were you surprised or disappointed that you may have just found out about this on Saturday?
Barta: Any time something happens, the closer you find out about it from when it happened, the more you're able to deal with it. Am I surprised? A little bit. I don?t' have all the details. All I know is that on Saturday, we discovered it, we acted immediately that night. That's all I can say. I'm sure there was good reason. It must have had something to do with the investigation. W e would have loved to know sooner so we could have dealt with it prior to the summer.
Q: Were they both on campus during the summer?
Barta: Yeah. Typically, most of our student athletes are around for a portion of the summ4er, maybe not all of it. I know those two were on campus for parts of the summer and probably off it for parts of the summer. Most of it, they were here.
Q: How worried re you that it involves other players or student athletes, potentially?
Barta: Define 'that'.
Q: The credit cards. It's not been refuted.
Barta: I've heard rumors, but I have no information that would show that someone else might be involved. As Kirk mentioned, we can't predict that. I don?t' have anything right now that would indicate something else is involved.
Q: Should athletes, or are athletes, held to a higher standard?
Barta: The answer is yet. That's a positive. It can be a negative. It's a privilege to be a student athlete at the University of Iowa, not a right. For our student athletes to come here, we explain that to them, it's a privilege. Yes, you're held to a higher standard, but that's just understood, coming in.
Q: Is image something that "the next generation" doesn't see as prevalent?
Barta: I'm not a sociologist, but what I would say that is if I'm old fashioned, I still have high standards. I have a 9-year-old and a 7-year-old, I still hold them accountable to those old-fashioned standards. We hold our student athletes to those standards. What's happening in society, you'd have to ask the sociologist. We're going to continue to work hard and hold people accountable. It's not going to be perfect, I guarantee you, we'll have other student athletes, over my tenure, that will make poor judgments, and we'll try and deal with them fairly and consistency.
Q: Were their elements of culture or race in the reaction to this stuff?
Barta: Another sociology question, but until you just asked that question, 7 days, it's not occurred to me that that's a possibility. I've tried to take the facts, regardless of race and say, "here's the facts, here's what we need to do." Until you asked that question, I hadn't thought of that.
Q: Did anything along these lines happen at your last job?
Barta: Everywhere I've been, players have issues, poor judgments, some arrests, some other issues.
Q: You talked about the fishbowl, were you surprised at the amount of strong and swift attention?
Barta: No. Everything that is associated with the University of Iowa and the Hawkeyes gets a lot of attention and we're grateful for that. It's fun when it's positive, but you have to stand tall and be accountable when it's negative. I'm not surprised. It's one of the reasons I'm thrilled to be a Hawkeye, fans are so passionate towards it.