Fresno State athletic director Jim Bartko resigns

Fresno State Athletic Director Jim Bartko in his office at the Duncan Building on Jan. 26, 2017. (Collegian File Photo)

Fresno State athletic director Jim Bartko resigned on Monday, citing personal reasons, Fresno State President Dr. Joseph Castro announced.

Castro said in a news release that Bartko had focused on charting a new direction for Fresno State’s athletics program, and he took the lead in developing the vision for the Bulldog Stadium modernization project.

“He engaged new supporters across the region and increased involvement in advancing our program,” Castro added in the release.

In the meantime, Castro appointed deputy director of athletics Steve Robertello as interim athletic director. Robertello served as co-interim athletic director in 2014 when Castro reassigned former athletic director Thomas Boeh.

The university said Bartko was provided with 90 days of salary, which is common practice for California State University managers.

“Jim’s commitment to improving the student and fan experience has helped us recruit talented athletes and coaches,” Castro said in the release. “We are appreciative of the groundwork he has laid for continued momentum and growth of Fresno State athletics.”

Before starting at Fresno State in January 2015, Bartko served in various forms with the University of Oregon athletic department from 1989 to 2006. From 2006 to 2007, he was the senior associate athletic director for development at the University of California, Berkeley. He returned to Oregon as senior associate athletic director until November 2014 before he was hired by Castro.  

Bartko announced plans to renovate Bulldog Stadium in June 2015, which could cost up to $70 million. In September, Bartko told The Collegian that the athletic department had over $10 million in commitments, and fundraising was on track.

Bartko also oversaw the reinstatement of the wrestling program, which has its first duel since 2006 on Saturday, as well as the addition of women’s water polo.

In October 2016, Bartko fired former head football coach Tim DeRuyter. He hired Jeff Tedford one month later.

In addition to hiring Tedford, Bartko brought on wrestling coach Troy Steiner; women’s water polo coach Natalie Benson; softball coach Linda Garza; and men’s tennis coach Paluka Shields. He also signed men’s basketball coach Rodney Terry to a contract extension.

Associated Students, Inc. President Blake Zante, who is on the Athletic Corporation board and attended meetings with Bartko, called him “a good guy who genuinely cared about making Fresno State athletics better and bolder.”  

Zante said he is sad to see Bartko leave, adding that he is confident in Castro’s ability to find the right person for the job.

“I also think the next athletic director needs to solve a big issue: attracting younger fan bases to sporting events,” Zante said. “This is crucial for the survival and support of our programs.”

The Collegian contacted Bartko for comment.  

Bartko’s resignation was due to “personal reasons,” but there were no further details given.

In January, Bartko revealed that he was molested as a child by his Catholic priest, and he talked about how he planned to advocate for victims.

“I’m hoping that if I have any influence in the community, I can make people realize that you can go on with your life and be successful and be happy – put it behind you and help others,” Bartko said to The Collegian.

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