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Barry Alvarez announces retirement after 32 years as Wisconsin coach, athletic director

Sam Cooper
·3-min read
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Barry Alvarez’s legendary career at the University of Wisconsin is nearing its end.

Alvarez will retire after 32 years in the UW athletic department, Wisconsin announced Tuesday. That run started in 1990, when Alvarez was named the Badgers’ head football coach. As his coaching career was winding down, Alvarez added the title of athletic director in 2004.

After the 2005 football season, Alvarez stepped down from his role as head coach, but continued as athletic director. That tenure will officially come to a close on June 30 with the 74-year-old Alvarez moving on 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. “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.”

Added UW chancellor Rebecca Blank: “We thank Barry for his hard work, devotion to UW-Madison and the standard of excellence he has set for our athletic program. 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.”

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16 seasons as head coach, 18 years as athletic director

After a playing career at Nebraska, Alvarez coached at the high school level for seven years before landing a job coaching linebackers under Hayden Fry at Iowa. Alvarez stayed at Iowa from 1979-86 before a three-year stint at Notre Dame. He was Notre Dame’s linebackers coach before a promotion to defensive coordinator under Lou Holtz. Alvarez was the DC for Notre Dame’s famed 1988 national championship team.

Alvarez then moved on to Wisconsin in 1990. He coached the Badgers to three Big Ten titles and three Rose Bowl victories over his 15 years. Overall, he amassed a 119-74-4 record as Wisconsin’s head coach, including an 8-3 mark in bowl games. Alvarez is just one of 16 coaches in Big Ten history to win at least 100 games at one school.

FILE - In this Dec. 6, 2012, file photo, Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez announces that he will coach the team in this year's Rose Bowl during a news conference in Madison, Wis. The Big Ten could only fill seven of their eight predetermined bowl slots _ and each of those bowl-bound teams are currently underdogs. From the 5-loss Wisconsin team that still wound up in the Rose Bowl to the 6-6 Purdue squad that fired its coach, the beleaguered Big Ten isn’t expected to do much of anything in the postseason. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)
Barry Alvarez will retire after 32 years in the Wisconsin athletic department. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

Alvarez transitioned to athletic director in 2004 and coached one final season before handing the reins to defensive coordinator Bret Bielema following the 2005 campaign. In his 18 years as athletic director, Wisconsin has combined for 16 team national titles along with 74 conference regular-season or tournament championships.

Alvarez was voted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010.

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