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McCaffery's new contract deserved

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | JULY 18, 2012 6:30 AM

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Coaching is a tough gig, there's no doubt about it: negative press, die-hard fans, and a vast amount of traveling. It's especially tough when you're coaching in one of the best conferences in the NCAA, and in a town such as Iowa City, where football is king.

Fran McCaffery's new contact awards the coach with an annual $1.66 million, including a base salary of $1.3 million beginning this coming season. This sounds like an awful lot of money to the average American, but the coach is worth it.

McCaffery is shaping up to be the first coach since Steve Alford took the team to the NCAA Tournament in 2006 to be capable of bringing the Hawkeyes out of the bottom half of the Big Ten rankings.

McCaffery deserves the new seven-year contract he received on July 10 because he has proven, both in Iowa City and his former coaching jobs, that he knows what it takes to build a strong basketball program.

When McCaffery took the reins from Todd Lickliter after the 2009-2010 season, he inherited a team that finished second-to-last in the Big Ten.

McCaffery proved he knew how to manage a successful program at Siena before he accepted the Iowa coaching position. During his tenure for the Siena Saints, he led the team to a winning season in each of his five years with the program, including three first-place conference victories and three NCAA Tournament berths.

In the 13 years that McCaffery has been a head coach at the college level, he has posted only three seasons in which his team finished with a losing record.

McCaffery led the Hawkeyes to four victories against ranked opponents and an 18-17 record in just his second season — the Hawks' first winning season since 2006-07. The Hawkeyes won only 10 games in 2009-10 prior to McCaffery's takeover.

Athletics Director Gary Barta noted his confidence in McCaffery's ability to bring the team success in a press release announcing McCaffery's extension.

"Two years into his tenure, I'm thrilled with where Fran is taking our program," Barta said. "He has done an outstanding job, in all phases." 

McCaffery not only brought impressive victories in the 2012 season, he also brought energy back to the Hawkeye basketball fans.

"Fran's teams have revitalized our fan base, proving we can compete with any opponent coming in to Carver-Hawkeye Arena," Barta said.

Carver-Hawkeye posted some of the biggest crowds this past season of any recent season, as reported by The Daily Iowan, including an attendance of 15,400 against No. 7 Ohio State.

Matt Weitzel, an associate director of athletics communications, shared Barta's enthusiasm.

"Fran is a tireless worker who is committed to winning at Iowa," Weitzel said. "He is a coach who does things the right way."

Though the coach's salary is enormous relative to anyone who isn't making more than $1 million a year, for a Big Ten basketball coach, it's certainly nothing out of the ordinary.

With the new contract, he is far from the top of this list — for instance, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has a $3.5 million salary, according to Forbes.

But the coach is worth the money. To have Carver-Hawkeye screaming for more is an incredible feat in itself.

And though McCaffery has only been the head coach for two seasons, he has proven his ability to establish a winning Hawkeye tradition.

The new seven-year contract shows the university's confidence in McCaffery's coaching philosophy and his ability to make basketball a greater attraction in Iowa City.


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