Scott Dochterman/Land of 10
Iowa athletics director Gary Barta answers questions from reporters in 2017.

Iowa AD Gary Barta explains what he’d do differently regarding Fran McCaffery’s contract

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What Iowa AD Gary Barta would do differently regarding Fran McCaffery’s contract

ANSWER: Iowa athletics director Gary Barta has come under scrutiny locally and nationally for an unannounced two-year contract extension he gave basketball coach Fran McCaffery last November that increased the coach’s buyout from $4.6 million to $10.2 million after this season.

Barta and McCaffery discussed the extension last summer but it was not finalized until  the fall. Barta then was diagnosed with prostate cancer and was out of the office for most of October and part of November. It eventually was signed Nov. 29, 2017, which was first reported by Land of 10.

Iowa’s athletics department generally announces contract extensions for its coaches so not announcing McCaffery’s extension was unusual.

Reporters for multiple outlets, including Land of 10, caught up with Barta last week after a Presidential Committee on Athletics meeting. Here is what Barta said when asked why he chose to extend McCaffery and for the price.

“Most people know, because I’ve been here for 12 years, that when we find somebody who matches our values and has success athletically, academically, we want to hang on to them and we want to be competitive,” Barta said. “So that was the why.

“When I came to the decision for how long and how much, obviously the marketplace has something to do with that. I remember when the FBI thing broke [in college basketball]. I knew immediately I didn’t have to worry about it at Iowa because I trust Fran.

“When I worked on the contract with him this summer, he had five years of averaging 22 wins so he clearly has proven over his time here and at other places he can win, and his guys graduate at a good level. So all of those things matched up. Marketplace, I came up with the amount.”

As for the criticism for lacking transparency, Barta owned it. At the time the contract was finalized, Iowa was 4-3. The night before it was signed, Iowa lost at Virginia Tech 79-55.

“Ideally, I would prefer to have those done before the year or after the season is over,” Barta said. “That’s the idea. I made the decision not to announce it. I know that’s created concern. I do feel badly for that. My goal was to not announce it at that point, but do it after the season.”

“Of all the decisions I had to make, two I’d do the exact same way. The third, in hindsight, I’d probably announce it now, knowing the concern and the angst it created. That wasn’t the goal. But in the future, my preference would be to get the contract done before or after the season, and then I don’t have to worry about it. Because my preference is not talk about contracts during the season.”

Likewise, Barta knows the criticism is heavy regarding his job performance.

“I know people are questioning me,” he said. “I can’t speak to how people feel about my credibility. I think over 12 years, I’ve proven that I care. Even though we didn’t announce it, the transparency was still there. We had several people request the contract, and we gave it to them as soon as they asked.

“Every time I make a decision, someone is upset about it. So, if over 12 years enough people have been upset about enough of my decisions, the word credibility, I can’t answer that. I show up every day and I make decisions based on what I think is best, what I think is right. Most of the time, hopefully, it’s right. Sometimes, it isn’t perfect, but we keep moving forward.”

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