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Iowa AD Explains Unannounced Extension For Fran McCaffery

Fans cheer as the Iowa Hawkeyes face the Iowa State Cyclones on September 10, 2016 at Kinnick Stadium.

IOWA CITY, IA - SEPTEMBER 10: Fans cheer as the Iowa Hawkeyes face the Iowa State Cyclones on September 10, 2016 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

It would cost Iowa a fortune to fire men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery. Athletic director Gary Barta has now explained why.

Five days ago, Land of 10 made an interesting discovery. With no announcement, the University of Iowa had given head basketball coach Fran McCaffery a massive contract extension.

The site obtained the information via a public records request. The extension was made on November 27, just five games into the season.

It bumps McCaffery's buyout up over $10 million. From Land of 10's report:

"According to an extension signed by McCaffery, Iowa athletics director Gary Barta and University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld on Nov. 29, 2017, the school would owe McCaffery $10.2 million if it fired him before July 1, 2018. That number falls to $9 million due McCaffery if he is fired before July 1, 2019, and decreases annually through the 2023-24 season. The recent contract was obtained by Land of 10 via state open-records laws."

That buyout is up from what was set at $4.6 million at first. Unfortunately for Iowa, the timing couldn't have wound up being worse.

When it was signed, Iowa was off to a rough start already. The Hawkeyes were 4-2, with early losses to Louisiana-Lafayette and South Dakota State.

Things haven't gotten better. Iowa is now 11-12, with a second-worst 2-8 mark in Big Ten. The whole thing made Barta's decision to not publicize the extension. He explained that decision in an extensive interview with the Des Moines Register:

“The simple answer is I believe fully in Fran’s ability to win, graduate and do it right. He had a long history as a head coach before he got here. He’s been a head coach for 30 years. Even his time at Iowa, I have eight years of data. And this summer, when I made the decision to extend his contract, in the five years prior, he’s averaged 22 wins — that’s extraordinary by anybody’s measures."

On the decision to not announce the decision, Barta said it is because it came mid-season, and would have been "a distraction." He added that criticism is valid.

“Many times, when we announce coaches’ contracts, it’s for recruiting. In this case, we didn’t need an advantage in recruiting. Recruiting’s been going fine. So I made the decision to wait until the end of the season, knowing full well … it could get out during the season. I hoped that it would be after the season — not because I’m worried about how we’re playing. But I just did not want to have this conversation in the middle of the season. But it is what it is. And there was no conspiracy.

Barta also revealed that Fran McCaffery has had opportunities to leave, which may, in part, be reason for a larger buyout. McCaffery benefits from the huge $10.2 million figure, but McCaffery will have to pay back $2 million if he leaves, double the previous figure. Still, it's a big gap in the coach's favor.

The 58-year old is 398-289 overall during his head coaching career. He is 147-112 at Iowa, with three NCAA Tournament appearances.

[Des Moines Register]