Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez retiring in June after 31 years with Badgers program


Barry Alvarez, the longtime athletic director and football coach at Wisconsin, is retiring after being with the program for 31 years. A university announcement on Tuesday confirmed that Alvarez will step down on June 30. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel first reported that Alvarez was close to retirement. 

“It has been an honor to be a part of Wisconsin Athletics and I take great pride in all we have accomplished over the last three decades,” Alvarez said in a statement. “From championships, to improvements on campus, to impacting thousands of student-athletes, it’s been a great ride. I’m grateful for the support, generosity, enthusiasm and loyalty of Badgers in the state of Wisconsin and beyond. Thank you.”

“We thank Barry for his hard work, devotion to UW-Madison, and the standard of excellence he has set for our athletic program,” University of Wisconsin chancellor Rebecca Blank added. “His work here has positively impacted the lives of countless student-athletes who have come through our doors. His leadership has also lifted our university and our state. Barry’s legacy will live on whenever Badgers take the field.”

Alvarez, 74, has been the leading face of the Wisconsin athletic department since 1990 when he was hired to lead the Badgers football program. He took over a team that had nine wins over the previous four seasons and turned it into a Big Ten power. Wisconsin went from 1-10 in 1990 to 10-1-1 and a Rose Bowl crown in 1993. The Badgers have only missed a bowl game twice since that storied 1993 season.

Alvarez compiled a 120-73-4 record in Madison, Wisconsin, that included three Big Ten titles and three Rose Bowl wins. Six of his teams finished in the AP Top 25, including a No. 6 ranking in 1998 and a No. 4 finish one year later.

He was so successful that he took over as athletic director in 2004 and hired his replacement — then-Wisconsin defensive coordinator Bret Bielema — as his successor following the 2005 season. Alvarez did coach the Badgers on an interim basis for two more games — the Rose Bowl following the 2012 season after Bielema left for Arkansas and the Outback Bowl following the 2014 season after then-coach Gary Andersen left for Oregon State.

Since Alvarez’s retirement from coaching, the Badgers have never missed a bowl game. They have played in four Rose Bowl games (three straight from 2010-12) and finished in the top 10 four times. Wisconsin athletic teams have won 16 national championships since Alvarez took over as AD.

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