It took just two seasons for Fran McCaffery to take the downtrodden Iowa program and make it a respectable one.
On Tuesday, the university showed it believes McCaffery can turn the Hawkeyes into the Big Ten contenders they used to be.
Iowa athletic director Gary Barta announced that McCaffery has signed a new, seven-year deal with a raise. McCaffery will be paid at least $1.66 million a year with a base salary of $1.3 million starting next season.
McCaffery, who said he’s ”ecstatic” over the new deal, could make up to $1.86 million per season if the Hawkeyes reach the NCAA tournament, which they haven’t done since 2006.
”It’s the kind the stability we’re looking for. To know we’re headed in the right direction, we’re making the kind of progress we need to make,” McCaffery said. ”We’ve got some tangible results, and I think there’s a tremendous positive feeling around the entire program as we move forward, and we just want to keep building on that momentum.”
McCaffery left Siena to join the Hawkeyes before the 2010-11 season. His original contract was for six years and started at roughly $1.1 million per year.
After a rough first season, his resurgent Hawkeyes won 18 games and reached the NIT in 2011-12. Attendance at Carver-Hawkeye Arena has also jumped more than 20 percent since 2010, as fans who were turned off during former coach Todd Lickliter’s unsuccessful three-year stint flocked back to the program.
The revitalization of Iowa’s fan base was most evident during the Hawkeyes’ 84-75 win over Dayton in the opening round of the NIT, when more than 13,000 people bought tickets in less than 24 hours.
”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. We are pleased that the victory total has increased in the last two seasons. But, as important, Fran has demonstrated a total commitment in all phases of the program, including recruiting, community involvement and commitment to academic performance.”
The Hawkeyes could be in contention for that elusive NCAA berth in 2012-13. They return three starters next season, led by Devyn Marble and Aaron White, and bring in a freshman class featuring prized recruits Adam Woodbury and Mike Gesell.
”It’s definitely a reasonable goal. We recognize it’s not going to be easy,” McCaffery said.” We’ve got more pieces. We’ve got more size. We’ve got more depth. We’ve got guys that can score. But we’re also going to have young players in key situations, and that sometimes is problematic, especially in this conference.”