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Barta: Contract extension for McCaffery on the horizon

[ 2 ] April 14, 2012 |

A new contract extension will be among the things discussed when Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta meets with Fran McCaffery to access the status of the Iowa men’s basketball program.

Barta isn’t in a rush to get it done because he said McCaffery knows how he feels and McCaffery still has four years left on a six-year contract that pays him about $1.1 million annually.

“One of the reasons we haven’t done anything specifically at this point is because it’s important but not critical in terms of timing,” Barta said of extending McCaffery’s contract. “So as we have our sit down and we talk about where we’re headed and our plans for the future, certainly that will be part of our conversation.

“But I’m not at all concerned about it, and he would tell you the same thing.”

Barta also isn’t concerned anymore about the direction of the men’s basketball program. He’s convinced that McCaffery has the rebuilding process well under way after two seasons and Iowa’s 18-17 record from this past season.

In addition to being Iowa’s first winning season since the 2006-07 campaign, the Hawkeyes also defeated four top-25 opponents, including Wisconsin twice; won a game in the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 2006; won a game in the National Invitation Tournament for the first time since 2003 and won seven more games than last season.

McCaffery also has the attention of the Iowa fans and a highly acclaimed five-player recruiting class waiting to climb on board next season.

“There’s a buzz and an excitement around Hawkeye basketball that’s been missing for a while,” Barta said. “We’re on a pace that I’m excited about. And there continues to be a sense that the future could be even better.”

The next step for Iowa is to make the NCAA Tournament, which hasn’t happened since 2006. Barta isn’t ready to say that’s a must at this point.

“I’m not going to say we need to win this many games and this needs to happen,” Barta said. “My expectations are that we take the momentum that Fran has built to this point and we just continue to build on it. I don’t know exactly what that means.

“I’m sure we’ll set some internal goals related to attendance and those types of things. The foundation has been re-established. It’s stronger today than it was two years ago. We have momentum. So I can see that next we have a chance to take what he has done and just build on it and make it better.”

Asked if he would be disappointed if Iowa didn’t make the NCAA Tournament next season, Barta said.

“Would I be disappointed? Yes. Would any student-athlete be disappointed? Yes. Would Fran be disappointed? Yes. But when I say disappointment I don’t mean from a standpoint of failure,” Barta said.

“We absolutely want to get to that point. And whether we do or whether we don’t isn’t going to be the make or break. I like the path we’re on. I think we have a great chance to get better. But I’m not setting an absolute for next year by any stretch.”

Barta said he never lost faith in McCaffery when Iowa was struggling early in the season. The Hawkeyes suffered double-digit losses to Creighton, Campbell and Clemson during a nine-day stretch in late November and then lost back-to-back games against Northern Iowa and Iowa State by 20 and 10 points, respectively, in early December.

“We all wondered what this year would end up like at that point,” Barta said. “But I never doubted for a minute that everything we were doing we were going about it the right way. We were building the foundation the way Fran and I had talked about when he was hired.”

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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