PLANO, TX, USA, June 7, 2024 / — After serving Chico State Athletics for more than 34 years, including 22 as its executive director, Anita Barker announced Wednesday her intention to retire at the end of September.

“It has been my honor to serve Chico State for more than three decades, especially the past 22 years as the director of athletics. I have worked with so many dedicated and talented coaches, faculty, staff, administrators and student-athletes. I am so proud of all that we have accomplished during my time at Chico State. The Wildcat Family will always hold a special place in my heart,” Barker said.

Under Barker’s leadership, the Wildcats have claimed six of the past 11 California Collegiate Athletic Association Hiegert Commissioner’s Cups (awarded to the CCAA institution with the best overall athletics performance in a given academic year) while finishing in the top five of the nationwide LEARFIELD Directors’ Cup standings five times since the 2004-05 season.

She shepherded the Wildcats into the CCAA and its era of athletic scholarships—a move many feared—with courage and conviction. Since that transition, the Wildcats have won more than twice as many conference titles than any of their CCAA foes.

In the meantime, the department’s student-athletes have also excelled in the classroom, ranking among the conference’s top performers in CCAA scholar awards annually, and in the community. A Chico State student-athlete has earned the CCAA Impact Award—given to the student-athlete who has exemplified leadership through participation in community service and engagement activities while maintaining a dedication to academics and athletics—five times in its eight years of existence.

Her role oversees 13 Division II athletic programs, roughly 350 student-athletes, and approximately 40 coaches, athletic trainers, and support staff.

Barker arrived at Chico State in 1990, when she was hired as an assistant athletic trainer. She transitioned to administration in 1995 when she was appointed assistant athletics director and senior woman administrator. In 1997, she was promoted to associate director of athletics and worked alongside then-athletics director Don Batie.

As the executive athletics director, Barker has earned several honors, including the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Division II Athletic Director of the Year awards in 2010 and again in 2019. She also served as president of the Division II Athletics Directors Association from 2012–14 and on the NCAA Division II Management Council from 2013–16.

In 2021, Barker extended her leadership to support Student Affairs as a whole, serving as interim vice president for several months and continuing to serve in a budget administrative role through February 2022.

With the help of Kaye/Bassman, an executive search firm, the University will initiate a national search for Barker’s successor this summer.

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Darren McDougal
Kaye/Bassman International Corp
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Article originally published on as Executive Director of California State University Chico, to Retire, Kaye/Bassman to Initiate Search for Replacement