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Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour Announces Retirement

Sandy Barbour, Penn State’s vice president for intercollegiate athletics, will officially retire this summer, according to the university.

Barbour, 62, came to Penn State in 2014 and became the university’s ninth athletic director. During her eight-year tenure, she oversaw the construction of new facilities, the success of title-winning programs like Penn State wrestling and women’s volleyball, and recent developments into the NIL landscape.

“These last eight years have been the most incredible and satisfying of my career. The passion, the commitment and the purpose with which the Penn State community pursues excellence is like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and I am honored and privileged to have had the opportunity to serve Penn State students, coaches, faculty, staff and our incredible community,” Barbour said in a statement. “Thanks to Penn State, I’ve had the opportunity to develop amazing relationships, work with the best coaches and staff in all of college sports, and most importantly, been surrounded by the most remarkable student-athletes in the country. Penn State and the Happy Valley community have captured my heart and will always hold a treasured place.”

Barbour’s retirement comes as Penn State gets set for a change in leadership. In May, President-elect Neeli Bendapudi will succeed the retiring Eric Barron.

Barbour leaves Penn State without completing (or, frankly, beginning) her Facilities Master Plan, which laid out more than two decades’ worth of refurbishments and construction for Penn State’s athletic facilities. Some projects, including renovations to the Lasch Football Building and the construction of Penn State lacrosse’s Panzer Stadium, are in the works or already finished. For now, though, it’s unclear what will become of the rest of the overarching project, which was largely halted by the pandemic.

Penn State said it will conduct a national search for Barbour’s replacement before she retires. It’s not immediately clear when Barbour’s term will end.

Throughout Barbour’s time at Penn State so far, the six teams captured NCAA titles, while all programs combined for 39 conference championships. Thirty-four student-athletes individually won NCAA titles, too. Under Barbour, Penn State posted five top-20 finishes in the Learfield Director’s Cup, which recognizes colleges and universities’ collegiate athletics success. Penn State estimates more than 1,000 student-athletes have earned degrees under Barbour’s leadership.

Throughout her tenure, Barbour oversaw countless personnel decisions, including a new 10-year contract for football coach James Franklin. Most recently, Barbour helped hire Penn State women’s volleyball coach Katie Schumacher-Cawley, who succeeds Russ Rose following a 43-year career.

“We are incredibly grateful for Sandy’s leadership and dedication to Penn State’s athletics program, student-athletes, coaches and staff, and fans across the commonwealth and beyond. It’s been an honor to work with her,” said Penn State President Eric Barron.

Before arriving at Penn State, Barbour worked with athletic administrations at Notre Dame, Tulane, and Cal. Barbour was largely criticized for her lack of fiscal responsibility on stadium upgrades at Cal, where she requested nearly $500 million in facility upgrades.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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