Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Doing it the Right Way
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: May 31, 2007
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Related Links

By Corky Simpson


Encouraging University of Arizona student-athletes to make certain their aptitude and academic interests are in harmony, Dick Bartsch has always followed up with this question:


"Do you know how many people out there are doing jobs they don't like?"


Dick certainly hasn't been among them. He's one of the most reasonable, unselfish and obliging administrators the school has ever had.  The tall and trim Bartsch has been an associate athletic director since 1994 and has been responsible for directing the C.A.T.S. (Commitment to Athletes Total Success) program.


After 33 years at UA, Bartsch will retire in June.  But he quickly adds, "I think there may be the potential for some part-time work here on campus... I won't be able to just retire."


That's fine with Athletic Director Jim Livengood, who said, “Dick is one great person and a Wildcat forever."


As Livengood put it, "Dick has been a fantastic employee and staff member for this entire university. From his days with Campus Recreation to his service with Intercollegiate Athletics, everything he has ever done has been done with care, thoughtfulness and class. “


I don't know if we've ever had a staff member who paid more attention to detail than Dick does,"

Livengood added.  "In many ways, Dick Bartsch is exactly what Arizona Athletics is all about -- and that is, doing things the right way.  As someone once said, 'If you do something the right way the first time, you don't have to worry about doing it again or doing it over."


For decades Bartsch was one of the state's most respected high school sports officials.  "And he did that the same way he does everything--" Livengood said, "full speed ahead."


Before 1994, Bartsch was assistant athletic director for facilities and event management.  He was in charge of five NCAA first/second round men's basketball tournaments, two NCAA cross country championships and numerous NCAA regional and Pacific-10 Conference postseason tournaments in softball, baseball, golf and gymnastics.


He came to the school in 1974 as director of intramural and recreational programs. Prior to that, Dick was baseball coach and assistant professor at Western Washington College.


A native of West Harley, N.Y. -- "It's only three miles from Woodstock," he notes -- Bartsch attended Springfield College in Massachusetts, graduating in 1965.  He earned a masters degree at Michigan State in 1966 where he assisted baseball coach Danny Litwhiler. Bartsch returned to Springfield and coached freshman baseball and basketball in 1966-68 before going to Western Washington.


Dick and his wife, Candace, have two children and four grandchildren.  Their daughters, Michelle and Laura, both played volleyball for the Wildcats, Michelle in 1990-94 and Laura from 1992-96.


Michelle and her husband, A.J. Malis, live in Tucson and have  three children, Zachary, 10, Ethan, 8 and Ainsley, 5.

Laura and her husband, former Wildcat basketball star Ray Owes, live in Phoenix.  They have a daughter, Kalen, 6.


Kathleen "Rocky" LaRose, Arizona senior associate director of athletics, in charge of sports programs and operations, has known Bartsch since she was a Wildcat athlete herself. "It's hard to believe Dick is retiring," LaRose said.


"I first met him in the late 1970s and have had the great pleasure of working with him ever since. Dick was the head of the intramural program when I was in school.  I was the intramural badminton champion and he was the official 'award-presenter.'  He was so approachable and friendly and he really cared about you as a student," she said.


The same is true to day, LaRose said. "Dick gets to know our student-athletes, their parents and families.

 He truly cares about their well-being and that they succeed not only in college but in life. He understands the unique needs of our student-athletes and the great pressures they are under to succeed athletically and academically.  Because of this understanding, Dick is a great mentor to them as well.


"I just can't imagine this place without Dr. Bartsch," LaRose said.


Mark Harlan, vice president of the UA Foundation, said Bartsch "is right up there with my top mentors... I'd put him right up there with Jim Livengood and (former football coach) Dick Tomey. When you think about Bartsch," Harlan said, "you realize he's one of the most passionate people you'll ever meet as relates to everything about UA athletics.

Particularly in how much he cares about the students.


“He is exactly what you want in a college athletics administrator -- he cares about the kids, he works his tail off, he is totally ethical and he crosses every 'T,’” Harlan said.


Becky Bell, director of C.A.T.S. life skills program, said "Dick has always cared first and foremost about the people with whom he worked and has been a huge supporter of our student-athletes."


When she was coaching, Becky said "I could always count on seeing Dick in the stands, supporting our team.  Over the years many student-athletes have commented on how he always took time to stop and ask how they were doing.  It meant more to them than he will probably ever know. Dick has given so much to this athletic department and this university.  I wish him the very best in his retirement." (Bell said she also hopes that "maybe in his free time, Dick can take a computer class or two.")


Suzy Mason, associate athletic director of event operations, recalled that Bartsch hired her when she was a student, to work in the event management office. "He was overseeing it, as well as working in academics, the training room, equipment room and weight room," she said.


Mason said she especially admires Bartsch’s style and approach with student-athletes. "He would deal with a track athlete who just arrived from the middle of South Africa the same as a blue-chip basketball or football recruit who came in highly rated," she said.


"The equality with which Dick treats all student-athletes is amazing.  Of some 475 student-athletes on our rosters, Dick knows probably 450 of them by name and he'll pat them on the back, shake hands and encourage them all."


Bartsch says the athletes he has worked with at UA "are the most uplifting, energetic and spirited young people you'd ever meet. The most satisfying thing, from a career perspective," he said, "would be to know that I've had a positive influence on them."