Bringing nearly three decades of leadership and guidance to the University of Colorado Athletic Department, legendary women's basketball coach Ceal Barry is in her seventh season as the school's Associate Athletics Director/Senior Woman Administrator.
In her 29th year overall at CU, Barry oversees the sports of men's and women's basketball, women's golf, soccer and volleyball. She also supervises several Student Services arms of the department including sports medicine, strength & conditioning, academics and student wellness.
She began this chapter in her illustrious career on April 1, 2005, just one month after completing a storied 22-year coaching career (1983-05). Barry retired having coached the most games, matches or tournaments (669) and the sixth most seasons of any sport in Colorado athletic history. Her 427 victories are also the most by any coach at the school.
Despite leaving the coaching ranks, Barry remains active and dedicated to the sport she has devoted so much time too. She served as chair of the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Issues Committee for the 2010-11 season. In April 2010, she served as the chair of the search committee that brought in former Buffalo Linda Lappe to lead the CU women's basketball team.
Barry took over a regionally successful program from one of her would-be mentors, the late Russell "Sox" Walseth, as former athletic director Eddie Crowder hired her as the fifth head coach in CU women's basketball history on April 12, 1983. But her charge was to lead the then-Lady Buffs into the Big Eight Conference, which officially started league play her rookie season as coach and was considered the next level from the old Intermountain Conference in which CU had competed in since the sport attained varsity status in 1974.
Barry's pedigree, a four-year letterwinner at Kentucky and an 83-42 record in four seasons as head coach at Cincinnati convinced Crowder that she was the right woman for the job. Twenty-two years and four U.S. presidents later, a 427-242 record, 12 NCAA tournament appearances, including six times in the Sweet 16 and three times in the Elite Eight, 13 20-win seasons, four conference championships and assorted coach of the year honors for five different seasons has proved she was more than just the right person, she is a legend.
She became just the 24th coach in women's NCAA history to reach 500 career wins-hitting the plateau in February 2004-and her all-time record of 510-284 and .642 winning percentage remain among the all-time best, ranking 20th among active coaches. Her teams have posted a 191-134 record in conference play, as 13 of her teams finished first, second or third in the league standings for the regular season. Off the court, Barry has graduated all but two four-year players (well over a 95% graduation rate) and has coached 85 Academic All-Conference student-athletes.
Prior to the formation of the Big 12 Conference in 1996, Barry was the Big Eight Coach of the Year four times (1989,'93, '94, '95) and the District V Coach of the Year in 1993 and '95. The 1995 squad posted a school record 30 wins and came within a whisper of advancing to the Final Four. She led her teams to four regular season Big Eight titles and five postseason tournament titles, the last in the inaugural Big 12 Tournament in 1997.
When the 1997 tournament title placed Barry's name in the inaugural Big 12 record book it was a fitting transition for a coach whose name will forever be etched into the history of the Big Eight. In her 13 seasons she was 184-96 when leading the Buffs against Big Eight foes. Barry won more regular-season games (118), league titles (4), tournament titles (4), coach of the year honors (4) and coached more newcomers of the year (4) than any other league coach, while tying for the most NCAA tournament appearances with seven.
Barry's Buffs had three wins over then-defending national champions with the most shocking coming in 1993 in Colorado's first-ever Sweet 16 appearance, an 80-67 win over Stanford in the NCAA West Regional semifinal in Missoula, Mont.
Following her second consecutive Big Eight title in 1994, the United States Basketball Writers Association and Basketball Times Magazine named Barry National Coach of the Year. On the local level, she was inducted into the Colorado Sportswomen Hall of Fame the same year. Twice, Barry has had her name on the finalist list for the Naismith Award for Coaching, those honors coming in the last three seasons.
While those awards signified her on the court successes, Barry's favorite accolade in her decorated career came in 2003 when she was presented with the CU Alumni Association's Robert Stearns Award in recognition of one's extraordinary contributions to the university. Making the award even more special, she was nominated by that season's senior captains Linda Lappe, Sabrina Scott and Diana Spencer.
Her dedication to the student-athlete was also put on center stage in 1995 when she was presented with one of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's highest honors, the Carol Eckman Award. That honor is presented to a coach who exemplifies sportsmanship, commitment to the student-athlete, integrity, ethical behavior and dedication to the purpose. The award was made more special when presented to Barry by her friend and colleague, Carol Callan, also the color commentator on CU radio broadcasts.
Barry's impressive resume has also given her the chance to see the world, coaching the likes of the R. Williams Jones Cup Team, which toured Taiwan in 1988, to coaching the Big 12 All-Stars on a tour of Europe following the 2001 season. While her coaching travels have taken her abroad, the highlight was her stint as an assistant coach for the 1996 United States Olympic Basketball team that won the gold medal. The appointment was her seventh USA Basketball nod since 1987 as she worked with Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer in coaching the red, white and blue to victory.
She was head coach of the 2004 U.S. Junior World Championships Qualifying Team, which went undefeated en route to the gold medal.
Only Frank Potts (track, 41 seasons), Les Fowler (golf, 29), Mark Simpson (golf, 29), Frank Prentup (baseball, 24) and Dick Gray (tennis, 23) logged more seasons as a head coach than Barry at Colorado.
Barry was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 2006 and the University of Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010. In January 2011, she became the third recipient of the University of Kentucky's Susan B. Feamster Trailblazer Award. Barry, who earned her bachelor's degree in accounting from UK in 1977, was part of the school's first class of women's basketball players to receive an athletic scholarship, lettering four times under coaches Feamster and Debbie Yow.
Born April 1, 1955 in Louisville, Ky., she graduated from Assumption High School in Louisville, where she lettered in basketball, volleyball and field hockey. She followed her bachelor's degree from Kentucky with her master's in education from Cincinnati in 1979. At Kentucky, she also lettered three times in field hockey in addition to her accomplishments as a basketball player.