Fran McCaffery has seen plenty of the Big Ten in the last two years; now, he’s in the Big Ten.
The Siena men’s basketball head coach, who will turn 51 in May, was hired by the University of Iowa on Sunday to replace Todd Lickliter as head coach.
He was introduced today in Iowa City at a press conference. The Des Moines Register reports today that McCaffery will sign a six-year deal worth $1.1 million a year. To view the story on the Des Moines Register Web site, click HERE.
McCaffery compiled a 112-51 record in five seasons at Siena, and guided the Saints to three straight NCAA tournament appearances. He’ll be formally introduced in Iowa City at noon today.
Under McCaffery, Siena’s program became a dominant force in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, winning three straight conference tournaments to clinch a berth in the NCAAs.
The Saints lost to Purdue in the first round on March 19, 72-64, a year after beating Ohio State, 74-72, in double overtime in the first round. The Saints also upset Vanderbilt, 83-62, in the 2007-08 NCAA tournament game
McCaffery did not return messages left on his cell phone on Sunday.
Both schools released statements confirming the hire.
Shortly after Siena’s season ended with the loss to Purdue in Spokane, Wash., McCaffery interviewed for the head coaching job at Seton Hall, which fired Bobby Gonzalez, and had also been considered a possible candidate to replace Norm Roberts at St. John’s.
Seton Hall subsequently hired Iona’s Kevin Willard on Sunday to be the Pirates’ new head coach.
A Philadelphia native who played one season at Wake Forest before finishing his playing career at the University of Pennsylvania, McCaffery has a strong recruiting foundation in his hometown, but also has roots in the Midwest, having spent 10 years as an assistant to Digger Phelps and John MacLeod at Notre Dame, where he met his wife, Margaret, a former Notre Dame star who grew up in Minnesota.
After last season, McCaffery signed an eight-year contract extension that reflected a raise on his $360,000 2008 salary.
Lickliter reportedly made $1.2 million per season at Iowa. He was fired after his third straight losing season with a 10-22 record. Iowa was 38-58 under Lickliter, who was hired after six seasons at his alma mater, Butler University, where he was 131-61.
McCaffery, the 2009 MAAC coach of the year who also went to the NCAAs with Lehigh and UNC-Greensboro, is the only head coach to have taken three different schools from what are considered traditionally one-bid conferences to the NCAAs.
His first recruit at Siena, Kenny Hasbrouck, is the first player in Siena history to sign an NBA contract. Hasbrouck was signed to a 10-day contract with the Miami Heat last week.
McCaffery leaves behind a program that is losing the so-called Big Three — MAAC Player of the Year Alex Franklin, all-MAAC first-team point guard Ronald Moore and swingman Edwin Ubiles — to graduation. Ubiles is a pro prospect, and has been invited to participate in a senior all-star game at the Final Four in Indianapolis this week.
The Saints have a big question mark at point guard, and will have a difficult, if not impossible, time convincing highly regarded recruit Bryon Allen to come to Siena now that McCaffery is gone.
When McCaffery was hired to replace Rob Lanier in 2005, the Saints were picked to finish last in the 10-team MAAC, but he guided a depleted lineup to a fourth-place finish.
Siena was 20-12 overall and 12-6 in the MAAC in 2006-07, finishing third and advancing to the conference tournament championship game before losing to Niagara.
In 2007-08, Siena was 23-11, and upset fourth-seeded Vanderbilt of the Southeastern Conference before losing to Villanova in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
In 2008-09, the Saints were 27-8 and were seeded No. 9 in the NCAAs, beating Ohio State on Moore’s three-pointer with 3.9 seconds left in the second overtime in what was one of the most exciting games of the tournament.
In the second round, the Saints led overall No. 1 seed Louisville with seven minutes left before losing, 79-72.
This year, Siena became the first team in MAAC history to place all five starters on the postseason all-star teams.
This year’s junior class includes center Ryan Rossiter, a likely preseason MAAC Player of the Year next season, shooting guard Clarence Jackson and little-used power forward Steven Priestley.
McCaffery was 90-87 in six seasons at UNC-Greensboro.
Siena has begun a coaching search, and will make representatives of the team available to the media at 1:30 p.m. today.
Athletic director John D’Argenio said in a statement:
“On behalf of the Siena community, I would like to congratulate Fran on being named the head coach at Iowa. I thank him for his dedication and commitment to Siena basketball the past five years and for his commitment to the values and traditions of Siena College. When Fran accepted the opportunity to coach at Siena, we knew that he was a skilled coach, recruiter and mentor and that he could help us bring success back to Siena basketball. His accomplishments brought national recognition to Siena and instilled pride in the campus and Capital District community.”