By Troy Andre, University of Colorado
Ceal Barry led the University of Colorado women’s basketball program for 22 years. During that span, she compiled a 427-242 CU record, boosted her overall 26-year career mark to 510-284 (.642) and earned a No. 25 ranking among NCAA Division I coaches. After spending four seasons (1979-80 through 1982-83) as head coach at the University of Cincinnati, where she logged an 83-42 ledger, Barry sparked the Buffs to 13 20-win seasons and 12 trips to the NCAA Tournament, including six Sweet 16s and a trio of Elite Eights.
Prior to 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. She led her teams to four regular-season Big Eight titles and five post-season 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 retired after coaching the most games, matches or tournaments (669) and the sixth-most seasons of any coach in Colorado athletic history. Her 427 victories also are the most by any coach at the school.
Off the court, Barry graduated all but two four-year players (well over a 95% graduation rate) and has coached 85 Academic All-Conference student-athletes. 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. Her dedication to the student-athlete also was put on center stage in 1995 when she was presented with one of the highest honors bestowed by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, 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.
While her coaching travels have taken Barry abroad, the highlight was her stint as an assistant coach for the gold medal-winning 1996 United States Olympic Basketball Team. The appointment, her seventh USA Basketball nod since 1987, enabled her to work with Stanford University head coach Tara VanDerveer in coaching the red, white and blue to victory.
After stepping down as CU head coach, Barry was appointed Associate Athletic Director for Student Services at Colorado on April 1, 2005.
It was a fitting transition for a coach whose name will forever be etched into the history of the Big Eight.