The Ceal Deal
Athletic administrator Ceal Barry, the winningest women’s basketball coach in school history, completed her 30th year at CU-Boulder. Last summer she served as interim athletic director after the departure of Mike Bohn and before the hiring of Rick George.
What made you decide not to throw your hat in the ring for the permanent A.D. job?
Primarily, it’s pretty well understood that the department was in search of additional revenues and revenue production, whether that be through fundraising, licensing, sponsorships — areas that I’m not familiar with. During the last eight years as an administrator, I’ve worked more with internal operations. The charge of what the chancellor was searching for, and what my strengths are, really didn’t match up.
Between being the interim A.D. and heading up the search committee, was it enlightening for you?
I think you work to learn and to become an interesting person, to get better as a human being. That’s part of why we’re in interesting careers. Who wants to be stale or stagnant? Nobody. So hopefully I’m learning something every day. Part of the reason I got out of coaching was because I could run those basketball camps with my eyes closed. I thought, “I’m becoming a boring person.” So yeah, it’s really been interesting. I have learned a lot about things that I was not exposed to in the last eight years as an administrator.
Were you given any guarantees about your position when you took on the interim A.D. role?
No, and that’s important. Who wants to get comfortable and be protected? I think I’m going to have to prove myself to the sixth athletic director who I’ve worked for. I’m getting up there in years and I don’t have the same skillset as a 25-year-old who can do technology and social media, so what are the things I can offer, other than historical perspective? I think it’s important that I prove myself just like anyone else. I don’t want to retire. I don’t have children. I like to play golf but not that much. I’d get bored. I like the intellectual stimulation of fixing problems. I did that as a coach. Hopefully I’ll still be able to do that.
In the last eight years, have you ever missed coaching, or do you think you’ll ever go back?
I think about that every March because that’s the fun month. There are 11 hard months and March is the fun month. Or I’ve thought, “When I retire I’m going to coach a seventh-grade team.” But when I think about coaching, I think I just can’t do it. I’m too busy right now but maybe someday.
Have you enjoyed your role the last eight years?
I firmly believe that former coaches who have an interest and an aptitude make very good athletic administrators. Recruiting, managing assistant coaches, coaching games, taking a team on a road trip, disciplining student-athletes — I think they’re vital experiences for administrators to have because it’s hard for administrators to put themselves in the shoes of an assistant coach, head coach or a student-athlete if they have never lived it — and really, really lived it.
Do you foresee retiring from CU?
I definitely will finish my career at CU — hopefully in five or seven more years. Part of that will be dependent upon what the new athletic director has me doing. Maybe he will see a skillset that I have that I don’t see. It will be nice to have someone else with a fresh set of eyes looking to see, “How can she contribute?” That will be kind of interesting.
Photo by Glenn Asakawa