Iowa quietly extends Fran McCaffery's contract with huge buyout terms

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta quietly extended the contract of Fran McCaffery by two years in November in a deal that more than doubles the buyout the university would owe if it fired the eighth-year men's basketball coach.

The new terms came to light after Scott Dochterman of Land of 10 filed a Freedom of Information Act request.

It was signed Nov. 29, the day after the Hawkeyes lost 79-55 at Virginia Tech to cap the opening month of what has been a disappointing season. Iowa is 11-11 and 2-7 in Big Ten Conference play, its worst mark since McCaffery's first season.

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Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery jokes with a referee during the Hawkeyes' game against Ohio State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018.

The contract stipulates that McCaffery, who is scheduled to make $2.225 million this year, would be due $10.2 million if terminated before July 1, 2018. That payout decreases slightly in each subsequent year through 2023..

It's an unusually large buyout for a basketball coach. For example, Iowa State's Steve Prohm would be owed $4.5 million if he were dismissed at the end of this season.

McCaffery's previous deal provided for a $4.6 million buyout this year.

His contract now runs through the 2023-24 season, at which point he would be set to earn $3 million in guaranteed income. McCaffery's previous contract, signed in March 2016, called for him to top out at $2.3 million in 2021-22.

The new amendment also requires that, if McCaffery were to accept a new head coaching job before July 1, 2022, his new employer would pay Iowa $2 million. That amount was previously $1 million.

In a university statement, Barta said the contract extension was negotiated last summer but put on hold while he took a leave of absence in the fall to be treated for prostate cancer.

"I’m enthused with the leadership Fran has provided our men’s basketball program and excited for the immediate and long-term future of the program,” Barta said.

McCaffery added: "It is a great honor to represent the University of Iowa and coach the young men in our program. We remain excited about our current players and where they are taking us as a program in the coming years.”

It is the second significant contract change for Iowa athletic department employees that the university did not publicly disclose.

In January 2016, Barta received a five-year contract extension worth $4.6 million through June 20, 2021. That news was broken the next month by the Associated Press. 

Iowa president Bruce Harreld signed off on both deals.