Having a one-year contract is new to Jack Dahm in his current job as the Iowa baseball coach.
But he understands the circumstances and is used to working under a short-term arrangement.
“That’s all I ever had until I got here, really,” Dahm said of the 10 seasons he spent as the coach at his alma mater, Creighton University, before taking over at Iowa in 2003. “So it’s not a big deal to me, and I didn’t ask for anything different.
“We just sat down and said, ‘Hey, we’ll get a one-year deal here and continue to move forward as a program.”’
Dahm said he was told shortly after the season by Iowa Associate Athletics Director Fred Mims that he would be given a new contract.
There was speculation Dahm’s job might be in jeopardy after Iowa failed to make the Big Ten Tournament, which features the conference’s top six teams, for the sixth time in his nine seasons as coach.
Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta then fueled the speculation last month by declining to comment on Dahm’s coaching status other than issuing a statement saying that he would evaluate the baseball program at a later date.
Dahm, 45, confirmed earlier this week that he had agreed to a new one-year deal. His current five-year contract will expire at the end of June. He first contract at Iowa covered four years.
Dahm described his meetings recently with Mims and Barta as being “incredibly positive and incredibly supportive” even though no long-term deal was reached.
“They said, ‘Hey, we’re excited about the direction we’re going and with the talent we have,’” Dahm said of Barta and Mims. “We just need to win more.”
Dahm said neither Barta nor Mims have made any specific demands such as having to make the conference tournament in order for Dahm to keep his job beyond next season.
“They haven’t really said that,” Dahm said. “They want to continue to see progress. They haven’t sat down and said you you’ve got to do this, this and this.
“But that’s a major goal for us, (making) the (Big Ten) Tournament. And in order to make the NCAA Regionals, you’ve got to make the Big Ten Tournament. So that’s one of those stepping stones that you need to have.”
Dahm said his only focus now is turning Iowa into a consistent winner.
He hopes that having signed a heralded recruiting class in each of the past two years will pay dividends on the field.
His incoming recruiting class is widely regarded as the best in the Big Ten, but that’s with pitcher Ryan Borucki and catcher Blake Hickman as a part of it.
Borucki and Hickman are deciding between signing professional contracts and enrolling at Iowa in the fall. They wouldn’t be allowed to turn professional for three years if they choose to go to college under the current rules of Major League Baseball.
Borucki, who is from Mundelein, Ill., was drafted in the 15th-round by the Toronto Blue Jays and the Chicago Cubs took Hickman in the 20th round. The 6-foot-4 Hickman is from Chicago and attended Simeon High School.
“It’s a bit of a wait-and-see,” Dahm said. “I feel pretty good about it because we got through that initial day of people throwing a bunch of offers at them before they took them. So I think there is a good chance we get both of them here.
“But you just never know. I might get a phone call tomorrow and they’ve both signed. Those players have to do what’s best for the future. We just educate them on how important a college education is and the opportunity here at the University of Iowa and the direction we’re taking the program.”
Dahm believes in his coaching philosophy and is proud of his players’ high graduation rates and community service involvement. He also is optimistic about the future, largely because of how the players and coaches conduct themselves.
“We all understand that we want to have more success on the baseball field,” Dahm said. “But it’s a process and you need to do things the right way.
“And when you continue to do things the right way on a daily basis and you get the right recruits and you develop them; that’s when the winning is going to take care of itself. We’re hoping that’s right around the corner for us.”
The Big Ten won’t make it easy, though.
“I’ll tell you what, it’s tough,” Dahm said. “If you look at it, it’s tougher to make the Big Ten Tournament in baseball than it is to make a bowl game for a football team. We’ve got an outstanding league, and there is so much parity in it.”