New deal provides Fran McCaffery, Iowa basketball with stability

Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery reacts to an official's call during the second half against Ohio State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City of Saturday, January 7, 2012. (Cliff Jette/SourceMedia Group)
Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery reacts to an official's call during the second half against Ohio State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City of Saturday, January 7, 2012. (Cliff Jette/SourceMedia Group)

IOWA CITY — Fran McCaffery has made enough progress in his first two years as coach to warrant a new contract, according to his superiors. Now he intends to reward their good faith by taking the Iowa men's basketball program to the next level.

"In terms of what it means for the program, it’s the kind of stability that we’re looking for, to know that we’re headed in the right direction and making the kind of progress that we need to make," McCaffery said Tuesday. "I think we’ve got some tangible results and I think there’s a tremendous feeling, a tremendous positive feeling about the program as we move forward. We just want to keep building on that momentum.

"We talk about making progress, you can make progress, but we want more. We’re not satisfied with where we are today. We’re sort of happy with what we’ve accomplished in a short period of time but we want more, our fans want more and that’s sort of the game plan as we move forward."

A new seven-year contract was announced Tuesday for McCaffery, 53, and it lasts through the 2019 season.  Next year he will earn $1.3 million but if he takes the Hawkeyes to the NCAA Tournament, his guaranteed salary will escalate to $1.7 million for 2013-14. If Iowa doesn't qualify for the NCAA tournament next season, he will make $1.5 million in 2013-14.

McCaffery inherited a program with the worst record in school history after a 10-22 disaster in 2009-10. The Hawkeyes were 11-20 in McCaffery's first year and last year finished 18-17. The Hawkeyes qualified for their first postseason tournament — the NIT — since 2006, and won their first postseason game in nine years.

Iowa also saw significant increases in attendance in the last two years. Iowa averaged nearly 2,500 more fans per home game last season than in 2009-2010.

Senior Eric May, the only remaining holdover from Todd Lickliter's era, said McCaffery has reinvigorated the program.

"It was not great then and things were not going well," May said. "We really weren’t a tight-knit team. When Coach McCaffery got here, things started changing. This year, even more so than last year, everybody’s together. It’s not even comparable to what it used to be."

McCaffery also has supporters among Iowa fans, alumni and parents. Roy Marble, the school's record holder for career points, likes how McCaffery has handled his son, Devyn, who averaged 11.5 points a game last year as a sophomore.

"Coach Fran’s way of dealing with him has been monumental," Roy Marble said. "Straight tough love. That’s where I come from. Fran knew from the beginning what I was thinking of with him as a coach. I went through it, and I love the tough love aspect of it. This is the Big Ten. I think Fran already knew it that he’s going to have kick some butt. That’s the bottom line. You’ve got to kick some butts."

McCaffery has four younger children and his oldest will enter eighth grade this fall. He said the contract means stability for his family, who enjoy the Iowa City area.

"When I came here, my goal was to finish my career here," he said. "I wouldn’t want to finish it at the expiration of this contract by any means. This is not a stepping stone situation. It was never viewed that way; it shouldn’t be viewed that way. There’s no place higher than the Big Ten, unless you have somebody who always aspired to coach in the NBA which I don’t. I want to coach in college. My family is very happy in Iowa City. I really enjoy the people that I work with."

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