Legendary Colorado Buffaloes Coach, Administrator, And Women’s Advocate Retires
Colorado Buffaloe’s athletics will feel very different next season. Ceal Barry, deputy athletic director, and senior women’s administrator retired on July 1, 2020, after 37 years in Boulder.
“It was a perfect fit – CU, Boulder, Colorado. Not everybody gets to stay at the same place for 37 years.” Barry said in a statement.
Barry won more games than any coach in school history, leading the Buffaloes women’s basketball team to a 427-242 record between 1983 and 2005 before she stepped into the athletic administration for 15 years.
Barry’s Buffs made 12 NCAA tournament appearances, six runs to the Sweet 16, and three visits to the Elite Eight. She put CU on the map, winning at least 20 games in 13 different seasons, spending 140 straight games in the top 25 of the AP poll, and claiming four conference championships.
Her ‘94-95 team is the only Buffs squad to win 30 games and earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The best team in program history, they came seconds from winning their way into the Final Four.
Barry was already a Colorado legend and a trailblazer for women’s basketball when she retired from coaching, but she had more work to do. She took on a position as associate athletic director for student services and was named the school’s senior women administrator the next year.
Barry made sure the school’s women athletes had the same access to equipment and resources as the men, but she worked tirelessly for all of Colorado’s student-athletes.
“If you’re advocating for women’s cross country or track, you tend to advocate for men’s cross country and track because that’s a sport that probably doesn’t get the same sort of marketing,” Barry said in an interview with The Athletic. “You are in the advocacy business because you are speaking up for the have-nots, the ones that people forget about.”
Barry’s coaching tree is vast and growing. Three former players and three assistant coaches currently hold college head or assistant coaching roles. Jenny (Roulier) Huth, a three-time All-Big 12 Conference player and top 10 career scorer under Barry, just finished her second year as head coach at the University of Northern Colorado.
“She’s all about how it’s not about you, but about serving others. That’s a lot of her advice,”
Huth told Pat Rooney of the Denver Post. “She’s been on calls with me a lot this spring and she talks with me about how to act as a head coach. … You have to walk into this role of head coach and you’ve got to lead your staff, you’ve got to lead your players, and explaining what an amazing responsibility being a head coach is. I think in her retirement she can now sense how much of an impact she made.”
In 2004, Barry became the 24th coach in women’s NCAA history to win 500 games. She retired with an overall career record of 510-284. Barry was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018.
“I can’t express what Ceal has meant to this University, department and to me personally,” said Rick George, current CU athletic director, in a statement. “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.”