Fran McCaffery: You could talk to Mason about anything

Rick Brown
University president Sally Mason looks on as Fran McCaffery is introduced as Iowa men's basketball coach in March 2010.

Iowa men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery had this to say to the Des Moines Register about the University of Iowa President Sally Mason's retirement.

"From the first minute I met her you can't help but immediately like her. When I interviewed with her (March, 2010, his second interview, not his first) she was an incredibly likeable person. She has done a fabulous job here. I mean, how many presidents walk into a flood, with that much damage to your campus.'

"When you look at her impact on athletics, specifically as it relates to us and then also everybody else, you look at the facility growth under her watch. A number of buildings were damaged in the flood. And (athletic director) Gary Barta says, "Hey, we need a new basketball facility for our team.' A lot of presidents would have said, "We've got to wait on that.' And she said, no, you're absolutely right, we have to do that. Let's figure out a way to do it.'

"You just look around the campus. Phenomenal growth in athletics. She always had an incredible personal touch. Like when (my son) Patrick was sick (Note: It was discovered Patrick had cancerous thyroid tumor last March), she was so great with Margaret (his wife) and I and Patrick. You don't forget that kind of stuff Its easy when you have so much responsibility to not be on top of every little thing like that. But that speaks to who she is. I will miss her. I know that the next phase for her will something she's excited about and looking forward to."

Q: Was she the kind of president who did what she could to help you have success?

"No question. And there's so many other things that are important when you're running a state university of this size. She has to look at everything and she has to make decisions. If you're coaching here your thrilled to have her running our institution. I always felt like, no matter what, you could talk to her about anything."

"She knew everything that was going on in our program at all times. And it's the same for every other program, and every other department. And I think that's what makes her special. Because there's so much that comes in front of her and so many decisions she has to make, in terms of finances, across the board. But how do you make this institution a better place for the students who come here? And I think that's what she did a great job of."

Q: What would you like to see in a president? Someone with the same mindset as Mason?

"Exactly. Anybody, whether you're a chairman of a department or running the basketball program, you want somebody that understands what we do and then we have to reciprocate with we understand with how we fit in the big picture. Because we often times get tunnel vision. 'I need this, I need that.' You have to be respectful of all the people that are coming to her we want to do this, we want to do that.

"You just want somebody who is interested in athletics, who wants to see us succeed, and wants to do it the right way. That was made abundantly clear to me, from the first minute I met (Mason) that she wants to win, but she wants to do it the right way. We're not cutting corners to win games. I wouldn't want to be anyplace else, I wouldn't want to work for anybody else, who had a philosophy that wasn't like that I think that's why we got along so well."