ATHLETICS

Iowa A.D. Barta receives five-year contract extension

IOWA CITY, Iowa — A big year from Iowa's football and basketball teams has led to a big raise for Athletic Director Gary Barta from his new boss.

A document obtained by the Associated Press shows that Iowa President Bruce Harreld and Barta reached a five-year contract extension last month. It guarantees Barta $4.6 million in compensation through June 30, 2021.

The deal increases Barta's base salary from $400,000 to $550,000 in July and nearly doubles his annual deferred compensation to $250,000.

Barta will remain eligible for up to $110,000 in annual bonuses for academic and athletic achievements spelled out in his earlier contract. But the new deal adds an additional $40,000 in potential bonuses based on whether he meets yearly goals established by Harreld, a former IBM executive who was hired as school president last fall.

"Extending (Barta's) contract was the right thing to do. He and the entire athletics department are committed to the success of our student-athletes both on the field of play and in the classroom," Harreld said in a statement, also noting that Barta's new compensation reflects the current marketplace in the Big Ten and nationally.

Barta, who took over for Bob Bowlsby in 2006, was considered embattled just a year ago after a few uninspired seasons from Iowa's football team and a controversy surrounding the abrupt firing of a popular women's field hockey coach.

Despite fan unrest, Barta stuck by longtime football coach Kirk Ferentz. Ferentz led the Hawkeyes to 12 wins and a Rose Bowl appearance, and Iowa heads into spring practice as the early favorite to repeat as Big Ten West champion.

In other news:

The University of Illinois made it official Wednesday, confirming reports that former Illini football player Josh Whitman is the school's new athletic director.

The 37-year-old Whitman moves from the same job at Division III Washington University in St. Louis. He inherits a long list of problems at Illinois, from allegations that a now-former football coach interfered with player medical decisions to a lawsuit over the treatment of women's basketball players.

But Whitman, who has a bachelor's degree and law degree from Illinois, called the move a "dream come true."

BASKETBALL

NSAA board rejects appeal from Omaha Central's Agau

LINCOLN — The Nebraska School Activities Association board Wednesday unanimously rejected an appeal from Omaha Central junior Aguir Agau, who was dismissed recently from Omaha Creighton Prep, to be eligible for the postseason in boys basketball.

Agau is a younger brother of former Central standout Akoy Agau, who's now at Georgetown.

NSAA bylaws state that a student must be in his current school for 20 school days prior to the postseason to be eligible.

The NSAA board also turned down a request from another Central athlete, Kansas track recruit McKenna Paintin, to compete in soccer and track this spring. A ban on competing in more than one sport in the same season has been in effect since the 1970s.— Stu Pospisil

Jazz President Rigby to retire at end of season

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz President Randy Rigby said he plans to retire from the position at the end of the season.

Rigby will be replaced by Steve Starks, who serves as president of Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment. The team is owned by the Miller family.

Rigby has served as president of the Jazz for nine seasons and has been with the parent company since 1986. He plans to move into an organizational adviser role after the season.

In other news:

The Sacramento Kings have fired assistant coach Vance Walberg. Walberg was added to the staff Feb. 23, 2015, less than a week after George Karl was hired as head coach to replace Tyrone Corbin.

FOOTBALL

Browns honoring Jim Brown with statue outside stadium

CLEVELAND — The greatest Cleveland Brown of them all is being immortalized.

Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, one of the most dominant players in NFL history who left the game at the prime of his career, will be honored with a statue outside FirstEnergy Stadium.

The team announced the tribute on Wednesday, Brown's 80th birthday.

"Everyone admires the incredible impact that Jim Brown has made for Cleveland, the Browns and the NFL throughout his lifetime, and we have had the special opportunity to know and learn from his contributions to our team on a personal level, as well," owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said in a joint statement. "It is only fitting that one of the most iconic professional football players and members of Cleveland and the Browns is commemorated with this statue as he will always be such a permanent fixture in our city."

The sculpture of Brown will be unveiled later this year.

Wearing his iconic No. 32, Brown shredded defenses for nine seasons, leading the league in rushing eight times. He was named rookie of the year in 1957, won MVP honors in 1957, 1958 and 1964 and walked away from the game after the 1965 season — at age 30 — to pursue an acting career. He finished with 12,312 yards and 126 touchdowns and recorded 58 career 100-yard games.

"It humbles me to be honored in this manner," said Brown. "Dee and Jimmy Haslam, thank you for the respect and love. Your investment in Cleveland is unparalleled. To the fans of the Cleveland Browns, I guess I'll always be with you — thank you."

In other news:

The New England Patriots released defensive back Leonard Johnson on Wednesday.

Johnson appeared in four regular-season games with three starts for the Patriots in 2015 and made seven tackles with three passes defensed.

The Green Bay Packers promoted Luke Getsy to receivers coach Wednesday and hired Brian Angelichio as tight ends coach, Ben Sirmans as running backs coach, David Raih as assistant offensive line coach and Ejiro Evero as defensive quality control coach.

AUTO RACING

Larson moves to backup for Daytona ater practice crash

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kyle Larson switched to a backup car after being involved in a crash during Daytona 500 practice Wednesday.

Larson was involved in a multicar accident in the second practice session, a pileup that occurred after Ty Dillon cracked an oil cooler between Turns 1 and 2 at Daytona International Speedway.

Dillon spewed oil on the track and on other drivers' windshields, and as cars behind him tried to slow, two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip ran into the back of Ryan Newman. Both cars spun, and Waltrip hit the outside wall. He was transported to the infield care center, evaluated and released.

Larson and Chris Buescher also were caught up in the mess, and the damage to Larson's car was bad enough that his team opted to move to the backup.

Michael McDowell, who needs to race his way into the Daytona 500 in one of the two qualifying races Thursday, posted the fastest lap in the early practice. McDowell reached 200.173 mph, a tick faster than Trevor Bayne, Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Compiled from press services and local reports

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Please keep it clean, turn off CAPS LOCK and don't threaten anyone. Be truthful, nice and proactive. And share with us - we love to hear eyewitness accounts.

You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.