Barry Alvarez, the most victorious football coach at the University of Wisconsin, will step down from his longtime position as school sports director in late June, he said on Tuesday.
The announcement by Alvarez, who turned 74 in December, was expected across the university and during the Big Ten conference, which he helped shepherd according to the shortened football season during a coronavirus pandemic. His departure will leave Wisconsin without the daily presence of a backbone for decades, which oversaw the huge growth of the athletics department and renewed its football program into the modern power of the Midwest.
“I’ve been honored to be a part of Wisconsin athletics and I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished in the last three decades,” Alvarez said in a statement on Tuesday morning.
The university did not immediately announce a successor.
Although Alvarez spent several years as the university’s athletic director, his 16-year term as a football coach is the foundation of his public legacy at Madison. During the time of Alvarez, who became head coach in 1990 and inherited a program that had won nine games in his last four campaigns, Wisconsin went from 118 to 73-4. The Badgers won the Rose Bowl three times during Alvarez’s run, as well as the Big Ten championship trio, and coached Ron Dayne during his 1999 Heisman trophy season.
Alvarez left the post of football coach after the 2005 season – although he later coached two games as an actor, 1-1 – and eventually became the university’s sporting director. Wisconsin teams won 16 state championships while he led the athletics department, which grew into a company that attracted more than $ 148 million a year, roughly doubling revenue since Alvarez followed Pat Richter as athletic director.
But Alvarez’s successor will have to cope with the aftermath of a pandemic, which has boosted the finances of athletic departments across the country and led to budget cuts and releases in Wisconsin. Last week, Wisconsin estimated its athletic shortfall at $ 35 million this fiscal year, a huge amount but far less than Alvarez’s $ 100 million publicly warned about last summer, when the prospects for the football and basketball seasons were uncertain.
The virus also posed medical challenges in Wisconsin, which battled the virus last fall, just like the state as a whole. But Alvarez and other Wisconsin officials were among those involved in the sport published regular data about cases within the athletics department. Alvarez said, “nothing could be hidden.”
“Coaches are sometimes reluctant to give a scout report and the like,” Alvarez said in a December interview, after other schools, including some in the Big Ten, repeatedly refused to disclose information about the case. “It’s an old school. Many coaches are paranoid – it goes with the job – but we thought this was more serious. “
Earlier in the fall, when the Big Ten looked set to play football after initially deciding not to compete in 2020 due to the pandemic, Alvarez played a major role and chaired a board that weighed potential approaches to scheduling matches.
Alvarez is the last lamp of the conference to take his absence. Jim Delany, the league commissioner for more than two decades, retired in early 2020. And James J. Phillips, Northwestern’s athletic director since 2008, recently became commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference.