The University of Colorado announced today deputy athletic director and legendary women's basketball coach Ceal Barry is retiring.
In her 20 years as head coach of the Buffaloes, the Hall of Famer led her team to the Sweet 16 six times, the Elite 8 three times and won the conference four times. Her success garnered national attention, with the team appearing in the AP Top 25 almost yearly and selling out the Coors Events Center five times before the men’s team did once.
“They obviously had great teams and went to Elite Eights and won a lot of titles and games. But the thing that's special to me is the way her past players feel about her,” said JR Payne, CU’s current women’s basketball coach, when Barry was inducted to the Hall of Fame. “The people that jump in on Facebook to talk about, 'Coach Barry this and Coach Barry that.' And I love the way her players react to her when they come back to Boulder and how excited a lot of them are to come back and be reunited with her."
Barry retired from coaching after the 2004-2005 season, becoming the associate athletic director for student services. In 2014, Rick George named Barry his first deputy athletic director, where she oversaw all sports administrators, CU’s Sports Governance Center and served as the liaison to the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance.
Colorado’s Chancellor Phil DiStefano praised Barry’s role as an ambassador for women’s basketball, “Her legacy is one of an innovator, mentor and pioneer whose work elevated the opportunities for female athletes and inspired countless student-athletes to reach their full potential both on and off the court.”
Barry’s career began at the University of Kentucky, where she was part of the first class to receive women’s basketball scholarships. After a brief stint in Cincinnati, Barry was hired as the women’s basketball coach at Colorado and never left.
After her decorated career as both an administrator and a head coach, Barry was inducted into the James A Naismith Hall of Fame in 2018. “I can’t express what Ceal has meant to this university, department and to me personally,” George said. “Ceal has represented all of us in such a dignified way throughout her career. She has accomplished more than most as both a coach and then as an administrator and has had a career that will leave its mark on CU for years to come.”
Barry may be leaving CU after 37 years, but her legacy will remain forever.