Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta showed the timing of a cinematic master Tuesday in announcing a new 7-year contract for his men's basketball coach, Fran McCaffery.
OK, that's an exaggeration. But Barta's timing was good.
For one thing, July 10 is a slow news time in sports in Iowa. At least this July 10 was.
So, how do you grab the lead item of the day in sportscasts and newspaper pages and Iowa-related sports websites? Give your popular basketball coach a new contract.
There isn't a speck of unhappiness or distrust about McCaffery in these parts. Entering his third season as Iowa's coach, the honeymoon period is still on. That's primarily because everyone concurs he's been recruiting well, and there was a nice leap forward from Year 1 to Year 2, from the Hawkeyes getting their brains kicked in to actually winning games in the Big Ten tournament and NIT.
Everyone also concurs the future appears to be brighter than the present.
So Barta pounced now, though there has been no indication whatsoever that McCaffery had designs on doing but stay at Iowa. The following piece of news surely meets with the approval of the vast majority of Hawkeye fans, and as crazy as it may sound given the amount, it isn't stratosphere money by Big Ten or national standards. This is an excerpt from today's UI press release:
University of Iowa men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery has signed a new contract to continue as the Hawkeye head basketball coach for the foreseeable future. The agreement was announced today by UI Director of Athletics Gary Barta.
The seven-year agreement guarantees McCaffery a minimum average of $1.66 million annually over the length of the contract, beginning with a base salary of $1.3 million in 2012-13. The base salary moves McCaffery to the upper half of the Big Ten Conference in comparison to his colleagues.
McCaffery's average compensation for the full term of the new contract could climb to $1.86 million per year should next year's UI men's basketball team earn a position in the 2013 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship. As was the case with his previous contract, McCaffery can also earn additional compensation annually by achieving certain competitive and academic benchmarks.
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This only fuels the fires of optimism burning about Iowa basketball. A renovated arena, a renovated program. Tickets are selling again.Just like old times? It's getting there.