The University of Iowa introduced its new head basketball coach this morning. Iowa athletic director Gary Barta says “the person who wanted the job, the person who is qualified for the job, is Fran McCaffery.
McCaffery spent the past five years as the head coach at Siena and led that school to three consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament. He also led Lehigh and North Carolina-Greensboro to NCAA bids and now looks to rebuild an Iowa program that has suffered three consecutive losing seasons for the first time since the 1930s.
McCaffery says his first job is to retain the current players, as he says they have “a great nucleus of young talent.” He says it’s his responsibility to reach out with them and see that they honor their commitments, and from there he can tell what they need for the future.
McCaffery inherits a team that posted a 10-22 mark this past season, the worst in the program’s history. “I can promise you this, we’re going to compete, we’re gonna play the game the right way, I’m gonna coach with passion, but our players are gonna have fun,” McCaffery says. He says they players will enjoy what they do on the floor and “this place is gonna be rocking again.”
McCaffery also was contacted about coaching vacancies at St. Johns and Seton Hall but felt Iowa was the right fit. He says he went through and prioritized what would be best for his family, and the place that would have the most potential for growth, he kept coming back to Iowa.
McCaffery expects the program to make progress in his first season, as he says his expectation is to show improvement immediately. He says how much improvement depends on the roster. McCaffery says it will take hard work to get the program back near the top of the Big Ten. He says they have to recruit well, coach the right way, and make the building exciting, so teams come in and have no chance.
McCaffery has agreed to a six year deal with a base salary of one-point-one million dollars. Barta says they’ve come to a general agreement, and they hope to have the contract completed in the next few weeks. Barta says McCaffery made it clear from the beginning that he wanted the job. “The first thing he said right out of the gate, was ‘I want to be the coach at Iowa,” Barta says.
(Photo courtesy of Siena athletic department)