MADISON, Wis. – After 32 years at the University of Wisconsin, including the final 18 as the Director of Athletics, Barry Alvarez announced Tuesday that he will officially retire on June 30, 2021, ending a legendary career in Madison.
For the past 18 seasons, Alvarez has presided over one of the nation’s most prosperous and respected athletic departments. Wisconsin has enjoyed remarkable success during Alvarez’s tenure, winning a combined 16 team national titles and 74 conference regular-season or tournament crowns since he took over. In 2017-18, he earned Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year honors.
“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.”
In Alvarez’s first 18 seasons as A.D., Wisconsin has finished among the top 30 in the NACDA Director’s Cup 15 times, including 16th-place finishes in 2006-07, 2016-17 and 2018-19. Six different programs have won national titles during Alvarez’s tenure, including four in the magical 2005-06 season. Fourteen different teams have been crowned as conference champions, including five in each of the 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2012-13 and 2014-15 seasons.
Alvarez’s impact extended far beyond the realm of competition. He oversaw numerous capital projects and inspired donors to contribute more than $150 million over the past 10 years. During his tenure, UW Athletics’ endowment to support student-athlete scholarships more than doubled and rose to one of the largest in the Big Ten.
Wisconsin Athletics has been transformed since Alvarez’s arrival as the head football coach in January of 1990. What was once a department that was in debt and struggling for fan support and to compete in the Big Ten is now a nationally-recognized brand with broad-based success and a legendary following.
Alvarez’s tenure was also marked by a commitment to the holistic development of the student-athlete. That pledge is demonstrated in the addition of Wisconsin’s Forward 360 initiative, which provides support in the areas of academics, career & leadership, inclusion & engagement, Badgers Give Back, nutrition, clinical & sport psychology, sports medicine and strength & conditioning.
At the heart of that revival has been the football program. During Alvarez’s tenure in Madison, the UW football team has played in 26 bowl games (including a Big Ten-best 19 straight) and won six Big Ten titles. One of just 16 football coaches in Big Ten history to win at least 100 games at one school, Alvarez retired from coaching after the 2005 season as Wisconsin’s all-time winningest coach with a record of 119-74-4. He led the Badgers to three Big Ten titles and three Rose Bowl victories. Alvarez was voted into the state of Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 2009, the College Football Hall of Fame and UW Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010, and the Orange Bowl Hall of Fame in 2016.