Jack Dahm is nearing the end of his ninth season as the Iowa baseball coach, but is he nearing the end of his reign in Iowa City?
Dahm’s contract will expire after the season and Iowa athletics director Gary Barta would neither confirm nor deny through a statement if Dahm would be given a new contract.
“As is always the case with all our teams, we won’t conduct a season evaluation until the year is over,” Barta said. “Jack has always represented the Hawkeyes in a first-class manner and stands for what we’re about.
“We’ll finish the season strong, evaluate the prospects and potential for next year and go from there.”
Dahm said Monday that he thinks he deserves a new contract, but he also acknowledged that his program has been short on victories, especially this season.
“I think I deserve to be back, that’s how I feel,” Dahm said. “But we need to win more.”
Iowa lost two of three games at Michigan State over the weekend to fall to 20-26 overall and 8-13 in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes will play Creighton today in Omaha, Neb., before hosting Big Ten leader Purdue for three games over the weekend to close out the regular season.
Iowa already has been eliminated from making the Big Ten Tournament, which features the conference’s top six teams.
Dahm said he expects to meet with Barta and with associate athletics director Fred Mims, who oversees the baseball program, shortly after the season to assess the future.
“They’re very fair here,” Dahm said. “I have a trust with Fred and I have trust with Gary. Could they come back and say something? Who knows?
“But I fully expect to be back because of the things we have going on. If it’s strictly about winning, now it might be fifty-fifty. The bottom line is they have been incredibly fair to me and to this baseball program.”
The 45-year-old Dahm has 210 victories to rank third all-time at Iowa behind Duane Banks and Otto Vogel. Dahm also led Iowa to a runner-up finish at the 2010 Big Ten Tournament, its best showing since 1983.
However, he also has lost 274 games as the Iowa coach and this season marks the sixth time in nine seasons under Dahm that Iowa has failed to make the conference tournament.
“We’re excited about what we have going,” Dahm said. “The biggest thing is winning consistently. We’ve been to three Big Ten Tournaments; that’s not enough. Our resume is good, it’s not great. We need to win more.
“I didn’t go ask for any contract or to get it rolled over because I was thinking we were going to win big (this season) and then that’s going to help me in my contract negotiations. So I probably should have gone in and asked for more after we went to the Big Ten championship.”
Iowa struggled last season largely because of injuries, but this season it’s been more about poor execution and not coming through in the clutch. Iowa has lost 10 games this season by two runs or less and has scored three or fewer runs in 24 games.
“It hasn’t been frustrating from the standpoint the year has gone by fast and between me and the coaches and everybody, we felt like we were going to get it going and get over the hump and put a nice run together, which we’ve done in the previous few years,” Dahm said. “But we just haven’t been able to do it. We’ve lost some games in some tough ways.”
“Talking to Gary and Fred, they’ve been incredibly positive toward us. However, we need to win more games.”
Dahm took over at Iowa in 2004 after spending the previous 18 seasons as a member of the Creighton baseball program. His first four seasons at Creighton were spent as a player beginning in 1986. He then went on to become the school’s all-time winningest baseball coach with a 283-276 record in 10 seasons.
Dahm said he worked with one-year contracts throughout his time as the Creighton coach. That changed when he came to Iowa and was given a four-year deal. He then signed his current five-year contract before the 2008 season.
“It’s just starting to trend that way (in baseball) now where people are signing (long-term contracts),” Dahm said. “Of course, the Southeastern Conference and the ACC, those guys are getting the bigger contracts and they’re getting four- and five-year deals. It’s just starting to get in the Midwest where you’re getting more than one year.
“A lot of people do one-year contracts. Here at the University of Iowa, we’re fortunate that they gave me a four- and then a five-year deal. But we’re going to let it play out.”
Dahm points to a number of factors that he thinks should help earn him a new contract. Iowa’s graduation rates in baseball are among the best in the Big Ten and his players are active in community service. He also has the Big Ten’s top recruiting class coming in next season, but that could change depending on what happens in the draft over the summer.
“Our meetings have been very, very positive because if you look at what we’ve done as a whole in the program, they have no complaints,” Dahm said of Barta and Mims. “The one thing I want to do is win more games.
“We’ve done some good things in every facet. But we haven’t quite got over the hump to be consistent.”
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