Iowa football signs head coach Kirk Ferentz to contract extension through 2029 season
College football's longest-tenured head coach has agreed to a deal that will keep him in place for several more years to come.
Iowa's Kirk Ferentz, who has led the Hawkeyes since the 1999 season, has agreed to a four-year contract extension that will run through the 2029 season, the school announced Friday. His previous contract was set to expire in 2025.
“Kirk’s consistent leadership and success over 23 years has been amazing and appreciated as he has led our football program in a first-class manner,” athletic director Gary Barta said via the school's press release. “His success over the past 23 years speaks for itself. He is an asset to the University of Iowa and our athletics department as a whole. The foundation of his program is strong, and the future looks bright.”
Added UI President Barb Wilson: “Over his three decades with Iowa, coach Ferentz has led our football program with tremendous success and integrity, showcasing how athletics can be an enriching experience for our student-athletes and a corridor for many to learn about our remarkable university. This contract reflects our commitment to Kirk and Mary as members of our Hawkeye family.”
Kirk Ferentz's extension with Iowa comes with a sizable salary increase
Ferentz was originally set to earn $5.1 million (before bonuses) next season. Including a $200,000 bonus for Iowa winning the Big Ten West Division title, Ferentz earned $5,925,000 in 2021.
His total annual compensation under the new contract, which he signed Dec. 31, the day before the Vrbo Citrus Bowl, according to a copy of the contract obtained through a FOIA request by the Register, will be $7 million. It includes a $500,000 base, $5.5 million in supplemental compensation and a $1 million longevity bonus. The contract expires on Jan. 31, 2030. In other words, it's an eight-year, $56 million deal.
With a four-year extension, Ferentz's contract will end at age 74.
Ferentz, 67, is the eighth-oldest head coach in college football and recently has taken on questions about how long he will continue to coach at Iowa. In the past, he's indicated he won't coach past age 70 (when the 2025 contract expired) but took a different approach when talking about it this past summer.
"I don’t know what I’ll feel like at 70 or 72. If I feel like this, I’ll keep going for a while,” Ferentz said in June 2021. "I will say this: I’m not going to do this at age 78."
Without question, the past few years of Ferentz's tenure have been some of the most challenging. Iowa's football program was rocked in June 2020 when allegations of racial disparities within the program came to light; the result is a pending lawsuit that will go to trial in 2023. And in the midst of that, Ferentz guided his team through a global pandemic, which is still very prevalent in the early days of 2022.
Through adversity, Iowa's football program won on the field. The Hawkeyes hold a 16-6 record over the past two seasons and a 7-1 record in trophy games, as well as two top-25 finishes with one Big Ten West championship. Off the field, players have commended Ferentz for the work he's done to make the program more comfortable and inclusive for all players.
"We got to know each other more and our experiences," former running back Tyler Goodson said in December. "Coaches, too, they sat with us and asked questions. They do that in recruiting but went a step further and there's even more things to know about each player.
"That's how we progressed, got stronger as a team, and it showed throughout the year. We got off to a hot start, lost some games and came back and won more games and made it to the Big Ten championship. Unfortunately it didn't go our way but we all came together."
Ferentz's legacy is long cemented. His 178 wins as a Big Ten coach are No. 4 in league history behind Amos Alonzo Stagg (232), Woody Hayes (205) and Bo Schembechler (194). His momentum in the latter years of his of career coincides with significant progress on the recruiting trail.
In 2021, Iowa signed the No. 24 ranked class nationally, per the 247Sports Composite, which was its highest finish in over 15 years. This year's 2022 class is ranked No. 27 and features the highest-ranked prospect in program history in safety Xavier Nwankpa and another in-state All-American in defensive lineman Aaron Graves.
The Hawkeyes' next class, 2023, is already ranked No. 12 and Iowa is firmly in play for more highly touted prospects, such as in-state five star offensive lineman Kadyn Proctor and Iowa football legacy Kyler Kasper, a wide receiver. It's clear that behind closed doors, Ferentz has already assured the next wave of players that he'll remain in place for several more years.
In today's unpredictable coaching landscape, Ferentz will remain the steady voice for Iowa for several more seasons to come. And that's good news for the Hawkeyes.
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Kennington Lloyd Smith III covers Iowa Hawkeyes football and men's basketball for the Des Moines Register. You can connect with Kennington on Twitter @SkinnyKenny_ or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.