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Alvarez announces plan to retire as Wisconsin athletic director

Alvarez plans to retire after 32 years with Wisconsin Athletics
Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 8:35 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 6, 2021 at 7:06 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Barry Alvarez will step down as the University of Wisconsin athletic director later this year, the legendary AD and patriarch of Badger athletics announced today.

On Tuesday, UW Athletics announced Alvarez, 74, will step down after working in Wisconsin athletics for 32 years, the last 18 as athletic director. Under his watch, Wisconsin has won 73 conference championships and 16 national championships. Football and men’s basketball have put together an NCAA record 15 consecutive years of playing in a bowl game and reaching the men’s NCAA tournament in the same year.

“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. “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 said. “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.”

According to UW, his last day will be on June 30.

Alvarez first arrived to Madison in 1990 to take over as head coach after serving three seasons as an assistant at Notre Dame, where he won a national championship as Lou Holtz’s defensive coordinator in 1988. As head football coach from 1990 to 2005, Alvarez amassed 119 wins. He also made two more appearances as acting head coach for the Badgers in the 2013 Rose Bowl and 2015 Outback Bowl.

Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez listens to a question during the final coaches press...
Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez listens to a question during the final coaches press conference, Thursday, Dec. 31, 1999, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Alvarez will face head coach Bob Toledo and the UCLA Bruins in the 1999 Rose Bowl on New Year's Day. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)(REED SAXON | Associated Press)

Famous for dropping the line “They better get season tickets right now because before long they probably won’t be able to.” at his introductory press conference, Alvarez earned just one win in his first year as head coach. Three years later is when the “sleeping giant” as the brash young head coach described Wisconsin was awakened earning 10 wins before becoming Big Ten champions and winning the first Rose Bowl in program history.

With a program that won just six bowl games before his arrival to campus, Alvarez then led the Badgers to two more Big Ten titles and Rose Bowl wins in 1998 and 1999. Alvarez coached the second ever Heisman trophy winner in program history when Ron Dayne earned college football’s highest honor after rushing or 2,034 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns in 1999.

Since the 1993-1994 season, Wisconsin has made a combined 49 appearances in bowl games (26) and NCAA men’s basketball tournaments (23) which is the most in the country.

File- This Nov. 21, 1998 file photo shows Wisconsin's coach Barry Alvarez congratulating...
File- This Nov. 21, 1998 file photo shows Wisconsin's coach Barry Alvarez congratulating Wendell Bryant on the sidelines near the end of the game against Penn State, in Madison, Wis. Freshman Jonathan Taylor is the latest star to emerge at Wisconsin (12-1), where the ground game traces its roots to the 1990s and Barry Alvarez’s days pacing the sideline as head coach. “That's first of all our philosophy, is we're going to be a physical team, we're going to run the ball, be able to run the ball and it starts with the offensive line,” said Alvarez, now Wisconsin’s athletic director. “Backs, they want to come where they can run the ball.” (AP Photo/Andy Manis, File)(ANDY MANIS | AP)

Alvarez’s college football career started in Lincoln, Nebraska as a linebacker for the Cornhuskers where he led the team in tackling his senior year in 1967.

His first coaching job however was in the high school ranks as an assistant at Lincoln Northeast from 1971 to 1973. His first head coaching opportunity was at Lexington, Nebraska High before heading to Mason City High in Iowa where he wont the Class 4A state title in 1978.

Legendary Iowa head coach Hayden Fry then hired Alvarez as an assistant coach in 1979 where he would spend the next eight years. 1986 was when Alvarez first stepped foot in South Bend as a linebackers coach for the Fighting Irish before later becoming defensive coordinator and then assistant head coach.

Alvarez and his wife, Cindy have three children, Dawn Stacey and Chad. Two of his grandkids, Joe and Jake Ferguson suited up for the Badgers in football themselves. Joe played in 58 games for Wisconsin, starting six of those at safety. Jake currently plays tight end for Wisconsin and is a fifth year senior with NFL opportunities awaiting him after his time as a Badger.

Who will take Barry Alvarez’s place?

UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank said the university will begin a national search for Alvarez’s replacement on Wednesday.

Alvarez had some advice for the next AD in line.

“There’s a current culture here that’s proven culture,” said Alvarez. “I know whoever comes in has to put their own fingerprints on the job. I wouldn’t tell them how to do the job, I’d be there to support and give advice anytime they wanted it. But you know as a wise man once said, if it ain’t broken don’t fix it.”

The University of Wisconsin Athletics Search Committee will be led by athletic board chair Pete Miller.

FILE - In this Nov. 8, 1997, file photo, Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez, right, is congratulated...
FILE - In this Nov. 8, 1997, file photo, Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez, right, is congratulated by Iowa coach Hayden Fry after Wisconsin upset 12th ranked Iowa 13-10 in an NCAA college football game in Madison, Wis. Alvarez, former Wisconsin coach and now the school’s athletic director, was on Hayden Fry’s Iowa staff from 1979-86 and lost his first five meetings with Fry until 1997. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)(MORRY GASH | AP)
Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez celebrates walking off the field after Wisconsin beat Michigan,...
Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez celebrates walking off the field after Wisconsin beat Michigan, 23-20, in Madison, Wis., Saturday, Sept. 24, 2005. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)(ANDY MANIS | ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez speaks to reporters during a coaches news conference,...
Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez speaks to reporters during a coaches news conference, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 1998 in Pasadena, California. Alvarez Big 10 champion Badgers will face Bob Toledo?s 5th ranked PAC-10 champion UCLA Bruins in the 1998 Rose Bowl. (AP Photo/Rene Macura)(Rene Macura | ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Wisconsin's coach Barry Alvarez, left, and players Ron Dayne (33), Chris McIntosh (75), Donnell...
Wisconsin's coach Barry Alvarez, left, and players Ron Dayne (33), Chris McIntosh (75), Donnell Thompson (44) and Chris Ghidorzi (16) hold up the Big-Ten Championship trophy following the game against Iowa Saturday, Nov. 13, 1999, in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin won 41-3 to capture the Big-Ten title. (AP Photo/Mickey Kienitz)(MICKEY KIENITZ | Associated Press)
University of Wisconsin Atletic Director Barry Alvarez watches the start of an NCAA college...
University of Wisconsin Atletic Director Barry Alvarez watches the start of an NCAA college basketball game between Wisconsin and Wisconsin-Green Bay Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)(Morry Gash | AP)
Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez, left, chats with actor Henry Winkler during a team practice...
Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez, left, chats with actor Henry Winkler during a team practice at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 1999. Winkler starred in the television comedy "Happy Days," which was set in Milwaukee, Wis. The team meets Stanford in the Rose Bowl New Year's Day. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)(NICK UT | Associated Press)
Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez runs in the tunnel after Wisconsin beat Purdue 31-20 in Madison,...
Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez runs in the tunnel after Wisconsin beat Purdue 31-20 in Madison, Wis., Saturday, Oct. 22, 2005. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)(ANDY MANIS | ASSOCIATED PRESS)
FILE - In this Sept. 15, 2018, file photo, Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst, left, talks to...
FILE - In this Sept. 15, 2018, file photo, Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst, left, talks to athletic director Barry Alvarez before an NCAA college football game against BYU in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin announced Saturday, May 9, 2020, it is asking 25 of its highest-earning employees to volunteer for a 15% pay cut over the next six months. That group includes athletic director Barry Alvarez, football coach Paul Chryst and men's basketball coach Greg Gard. There won't be any reduction of work hours. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)(Morry Gash | AP)

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