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Iowa football: Ferentz’s new contract makes him highest-paid coach in Big Ten

[ 4 ] September 2, 2010 |

The first contract Kirk Ferentz signed at Iowa came with a $28,000 salary.

That was 1981 and Ferentz thought he was doing well then as a 25-year-old offensive line coach on Hayden Fry’s staff.

Ferentz and the Hawkeyes have come to terms on a new deal — a far more lucrative one — that makes him the Big Ten’s highest paid football coach and, if fulfilled, would take him past Fry as the longest-tenured coach in Iowa history.

Iowa announced Thursday that it has extended Ferentz’s contract through the 2020 season. Ferentz would be 65 and in his 22nd season as the head coach of the Hawkeyes when the deal expires. The extension comes with a $330,000 raise that will push Ferentz’s annual salary to $3.675 million. It replaces the contract Ferentz signed last year that ran through the 2015 season.

It’s not a lifetime deal, but Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta acknowledged it’s close.

“For a 10-year contract in our business, that certainly seems like a lifetime,” Barta said. “I’ve told Kirk privately, but I’ve said publicly, too, I would love for Kirk Ferentz to work for a lot longer, then hopefully this will be the place he retires.”

Ohio State’s Jim Tressel had been the Big Ten’s highest-paid coach at $3.5 million. In March, the Buckeyes added two years to Tressel’s contract, which runs through 2014.

Ferentz will begin his 12th season as Iowa’s head coach Saturday when the ninth-ranked Hawkeyes play Eastern Illinois. He is one of eight Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches who have been in their current position since 1999. His staff has been nearly as stable.

Iowa enters 2010 as one of 11 FBS programs with the same full-time coaching staff in place for the third straight season. Ferentz’s 10-man staff averages 10 years of service time with the Hawkeyes.

“I am grateful to the University of Iowa and thrilled to begin my 12th season as head coach and 21st overall with this world-class institution,” Ferentz said in a statement.

Barta said Iowa also has adjusted the bonus structure for Ferentz and his assistants “to look like the rest of the marketplace.”

Ferentz’s program has gone to eight bowl games in the last nine seasons, and Iowa’s success has created a financial windfall for the school at the box office. The Hawkeyes have sold out all seven home games for this season.

“Kirk’s leadership is invaluable, and our success in the sport of football has a direct and significant impact on all of our other 23 sports,” Barta said.

The Hawkeyes are 81-55 under Ferentz. He ranks second on Iowa’s victory list behind Fry, who compiled a 143-89-6 record in 20 seasons with the Hawkeyes.

Barta said he and Ferentz “talked a lot in the offseason about getting a contract that makes a strong statement.”

“He truly is considered, if not the best coach in the country, one of the best,” Barta said. “This is just recognition of that. I would never sign a new coach to a contract that long or that extensive, but he’s not a new coach. He’s proven himself over and over at the University of Iowa on all fronts and all levels.”

Reach Andy Hamilton at 339-7368 or ahamilton@press-citizen.com.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Andy Hamilton: University of Iowa graduate Andy Hamilton is originally from Williams, Iowa, and started at the Des Moines Register in August after 12 years at the Press-Citizen. He covers wrestling for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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