Beth Goetz met with the media Thursday afternoon for the first time as Iowa’s interim (and heir apparent, perhaps?) Athletic Director in the wake of Gary Barta’s retirement earlier this month.
It was an extremely newsworthy presser, not only because it was Goetz’s first, but due to everything going on in the world of Hawkeye sports, from gambling investigations to 25 points per game in the upcoming football season and more.
I for one, think Goetz did a great job, as you’ll see. What our own BoilerHawk mentioned in our Discord, however, struck an interesting chord with me: if you told me that these were all answers by Gary Barta, I’d believe you, but they wouldn’t have the same weight they have coming from a new voice. If Goetz does take on the full-time role and we find ourselves in the same boat we are now a year or two down the line, things will be different.
But for now we have a new voice in our ears, one that we’ll take at face value, for the time being. And that voice is saying all the right things. So let’s get into it, shall we? Check out the full transcript here, or a watch it here if you’d prefer. Otherwise, my highlights and insights are below.
Q. A lot of things happening both at Iowa with gambling investigation and a lot of things happening at the Big Ten level and nationally. What are your top priorities in your first month as interim AD?
BETH GOETZ: ...Really for us, and I think this is always the case, regardless of what might be a hot issue of the day, first and foremost your priority is how do you best support the success of your student-athletes and your teams, and that’s where your focus lives day-to-day, and it’s certainly influenced by some of the things you talked about, whether that’s name, image and likeness or gambling or conference realignment, all the things I’m sure we’re going to get to talk about here, but that’s really where we want to spend our time.
There’s plenty of short-term goals that I think over the next six months both for me and our staff that we want to continue to work through, from fundraising to making sure we manage our financial resources to being prepared strategically to navigate some of the changes in those external spaces, just to name a few.
We’ve got some great facility projects to both conclude and some we’re excited to start. A handful of different topics that we’ll continue to pay attention to, but there’s always going to be new things that are going to attract our attention, but as long as we approach those in a way that the focus remains on providing a great experience and making sure we’re building championship programs across all of our sports, that’s where we’re going to spend our time.
Championship programs! You heard it here first. Live up to that hype, Beth! Please!
Q. I wanted to ask you about the gambling investigation. Do you have any idea when the student-athletes are going to find out what their suspensions might be? Where are you at in that process?
BETH GOETZ: On the reinstatement process specifically, we have submitted all the requested information to date to the NCAA, and we’re optimistic that we are just hopefully days away perhaps from getting some feedback at least initially on what that means for our student-athletes who currently are here and have remaining eligibility.
There’s obviously some additional steps in the process once that decision is rendered, but we’re optimistic that that might happen here in short order as opposed to a few weeks down the road.
Well that seems new to me. The sooner this resolves, the better.
Q. I understand you’ve talked to Brad about the Swarm. Can you characterize how your discussions went?
BETH GOETZ: Absolutely. Yes, I’ve had an opportunity to sit down with Brad, really enjoyed that conversation. He sent me some notes about some tips on today, too. One was to make sure I talked positively about the Swarm. That would be no problem.
But it has been wonderful to at least start to build a relationship with Brad. I know many on our staff have already had an opportunity to do that, but when it comes to name, image and likeness, it’s a critical, critical piece for our student-athletes and our success competitively, no different than the generosity that’s coming in through NIL gifts and through the Swarm and in other ways. It’s just as important these days as scholarships and facilities and any other needs.
Really what Brad and his team have done is given us a chance to be successful, and the way that they did it if you look across the country, many of the other collectives didn’t quite have the same success right out of the gate, and I think they’ve been very thoughtful there. His team is almost in daily conversations sometimes with ours and has been, but we’re appreciative of his efforts, of all of those who have chosen to contribute there, and they’re doing some exciting and fun things.
Q. I think one of their frustrations is there wasn’t a lot of give-and-take with athletics. Do you feel empowered in your role as interim AD to make some change in that area?
BETH GOETZ: Yeah, I think from the beginning it’s been a challenge for all campuses to try and find the right balance between what the NCAA rule structure is or lack of rules in this space might be and where we’re comfortable operating.
I know there has been conversations again with his team and going back to the beginning, but that the narrative around that, some of the movement that we’re starting to see nationally, whether that be through some federal or state legislation or through potentially some more parameters from the NCAA just gives us the ability to be a little bit more flexible.
My thought is that we want to be great partners with Brad, with the Swarm, and really with anyone that’s really to help and support our student-athletes, so we’re looking forward to seeing that continue.
This is a huge answer here. Goetz is obviously adept at giving the “correct” answer here in that it’s “a challenge for everyone” but everyone who has followed closely knows that the situation between Gary Barta and Swarm was tepid at best. The more the department integrates with Swarm, the better, and it seems like Goetz is open to that.
Q. I wanted to ask specifically about football, Brian’s contract. Will that be handled in the same way it was with Gary?
BETH GOETZ: That’s correct. Brian does now report directly to me.
Makes sense, but gotta ask the question. Let’s pull more strings:
Q. Regarding Brian Ferentz’s contract, is the contract provision still in place, the 25 points per game?
BETH GOETZ: It is.
Q. So if he doesn’t get 25 points per game —
BETH GOETZ: Let me lead with this: his goal, and I know because I’ve sat down with him, I’ve sat down with Kirk, and really the goal of every coach that we have here is to win games. I’m 100 percent convinced I was going into those conversations, I was going out, that their focus is on how do we win football games and how do we develop these young men.
As we look at those types of things, just like we would in any sport, you’re going to evaluate a season at the end and see how you did. But the goal is to win along the way, and I’ve won some ugly games as a coach and I never gave any of them back.
I know they’re excited. I know you all have now had a chance to see that team. We’re excited about what they’re going to do on the field, and we understand it’s unique. We understand it’s going to be talked about a lot.
But it’s just not something we’re going to be thinking about week in and week out. We’re going to cheer for the team, support the program, support our coaches the way we always do, and we’ll evaluate at the end of the season.
Interesting answer here. This is very Barta-esque. End of season evaluation (at this time, at least). Very interesting that she said they’re “not going to be thinking about it week in and week out.” Obviously some of this has to do with the fact that Goetz is interim, but still, this is a very interesting look into how things might be different right away: AKA, not much at all. At least for now.
Q. Kirk and Fran both have described the transfer portal as being “a mess.” Your thoughts on that? What do you think needs to be done?
BETH GOETZ: It’s a great question, and there’s a couple things that happened all at once that I think made it even more complicated, right. It was rolled out in the middle of a pandemic, so now you had COVID years, and then also you launched name, image and likeness.
It’s really hard as a coach to navigate all of those things, as a student, as a parent, to try to figure out exactly what that looks like.
But I think the pressure, the combination really of those three things have put on the transfer portal and thus on our coaches and most importantly on students making these decisions has been really complex.
We’re starting to see the end of those that had COVID years, and hopefully we’ll have some consistency here at some point, some level of parameters around NIL and maybe that’ll help just a little bit.
But it’s changed the way they have to look at things, and there’s a lot of positives, and I do think autonomy for students is important. There’s many reasons why you want to transfer, so it’s not necessarily about limiting that but how do we make it a little bit more practical, for them, for coaches.
These guys are recruiting now 365 days a year, and that’s not good for anybody. But there’s been some positive things that I think have come out of it. It’s some tweaks around the edges on all of those topics, and I think we’ll be in a better place.
This is a good answer that I would expect from pretty much every athletic director in the country. Regulation for the transfer portal has to come in some capacity soon.
Let’s end with some Caitlin Clark:
Q. Speaking so much of women’s athletics, obviously one of the big things among women’s athletics at the college level is Caitlin Clark. Have you talked with her quite a bit?
BETH GOETZ: Yeah, we have had a couple here in different sports at Iowa, but you have a generational player and a generational young woman. Take basketball aside; in the short time I’ve been around, and obviously I was able to travel with the team for three to four weeks when they were making their run, so an even closer look with the program and getting to be around Caitlin and her teammates, but what she represents, what she’s chosen to represent outside of just the skills she has on the court, and it’s not just Caitlin, it’s her teammates, as well, but they have chosen to be great representatives of Iowa. They choose every day to be mentors. They recognize that. That’s important to them.
You’re so fortunate to have someone like that who took that stage, took the opportunity, is using it for so much positive across the stage.
I’d been on the women’s basketball committee, so I had watched a lot of Iowa women’s basketball — just like sports fans in any sport you watch, was a huge fan of her game before I arrived.
Just like anyone else, you finally get to be in the gym and watch what she does, it’s pretty special.
Nothing earth shattering here, but you love to see that Caitlin Clark is just as great behind the scenes as she is on the court.
There’s a lot of other interesting tidibts from this, so if you want to learn more about the inner-workings of our interim AD, click the link above to see the full transcript or video. While things may not be totally different for now, we’re still entering uncharted waters, and I’m excited to see where things go.