Just months after announcing his retirement as athletic director, Barry Alvarez has made his way back to Camp Randall in a big way.
Last Friday, Chancellor Rebecca Blank announced that starting next season, the football field at Camp Randall Stadium will officially boast the name Barry Alvarez Field. The stadium’s turf is set to be replaced prior to the 2022 season as part of a $13 million fundraising campaign. The new turf will have the words Barry Alvarez Field written in the corners to honor the beloved AD and coach.
Donors who helped this naming become a reality include some of Alverez’s former players and his close friends Ted and Mary Kellner. Several of these players, including Mike Thompson, Joe Thomas and Lee Evans, spoke his praise in a video that aired during Saturday’s game against Michigan as Alverez stood watching with his wife, Cindy, from center field.
In a video distributed by the university, Alvarez expressed his overwhelming sense of gratitude.
“I’m touched. I’m honored,” he said. “I love my players. I love what they say. It means so much to me, and I’ve said this all along: I got into this business because so many coaches touched my life. That’s overwhelming.”
Alvarez joins an elite crew of coaches who hold similar honors, including Mike Krzyzewski, Pat Dye and Paul Bryant, who also had courts or fields named after them due to their coaching success.
During his time as head coach from 1990 to 2005, he helped lead the Badgers to win three Rose Bowl titles — 1993, 1998 and 1999 — and set a program record for career coaching victories with a record of 119-74-4. Wisconsin had only won nine football games in the four years prior to Alvarez’s arrival.
Equally as impressive are the 16 national titles in six different sports that were secured during his reign as athletic director from 2004-21. These national titles were won by Wisconsin’s women’s lightweight rowing, men’s cross country, men’s hockey, women’s hockey, men’s indoor track and men’s rowing teams.
Blank summed up Alvarez’ success at the university during the ceremony. "Barry Alvarez has had an immeasurable impact on the UW-Madison campus and beyond in the state and in college sports,” she explained. “This type of career deserves recognition at the highest level.”
Alvarez was named into the College Football Hall of Fame and UW Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010. While his success on the field had already secured his legacy, this naming will remind fans of Alvarez’s impact on Wisconsin athletics for years to come.