Sandy Barbour to retire after eight years as Penn State athletic director

ByAdam Rittenberg ESPN logo
Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour, who has led the department since 2014, will retire this summer, it was announced Wednesday.

Barbour, 62, arrived at Penn State in July 2014 after a 10-year tenure as athletic director at Cal. She also spent 1996 to 1999 as Tulane's athletic director before a long stint as a Notre Dame administrator under AD Kevin White.

She was the first woman athletic director in Penn State history.

"These last eight years have been the most incredible and satisfying of my career," Barbour said in a prepared statement. "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. ... Penn State and the Happy Valley community have captured my heart and will always hold a treasured place."

Barbour led a widespread facilities plan at Penn State that included a renovation to the school's football building. She did not hire football coach James Franklin, but she did finalize a new 10-year contract with Franklin last fall that will pay him $70 million guaranteed.

She did make several hires at Penn State, including men's basketball coach Micah Shrewsberry last March.

Barbour attended Wake Forest, where she captained the school's field hockey team and also played two seasons on the basketball squad. She was an assistant field hockey coach at both UMass and Northwestern early in her career before transitioning fully into administration.

"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," Penn State president Eric Barron said in a statement. "It's been an honor to work with her."