Confidential basketball search likely, if based on past

Published: March 16 2010 | 3:58 pm - Updated: 30 March 2014 | 9:12 pm in
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IOWA CITY — When Iowa conducted its most recent basketball coaching search in 2007, the university sought outside consultation that was professional and confidential.

It appears likely the university will head down that path again. Monday, Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said he plans to incorporate a process that includes a search committee and possibly an outside firm.

“I would anticipate the process that I followed last time to be similar to the one I follow this time,” Barta said.

In 2007, Iowa hired Parker Executive Search, a firm that specializes in making initial contacts and background checks, just one day after former coach Steve Alford resigned. Iowa paid Parker $50,000 on retainer and reimbursed the company $7,781 for expenses.

Iowa has used Parker for other searches, including hiring Barta. Search firms keep all contact outside the university structure, which is subject to state sunshine laws. Before Iowa hired Lickliter, Barta had contacted Tennessee Coach Bruce Pearl regarding its opening. Pearl publicly said he was staying at Tennessee and received an extension, while Iowa took the public relations hit.

Barta said the hiring process has become more complicated.

“When I first got into this business it was a very simple process,” Barta said. “You picked up the phone, you called the AD and you said, ‘I’d like to talk to your coach.’ You called the coach, you talked to them and you decided whether or not it was a fit. It’s become more complex than that, but it is what it is.”

Last time Iowa formed a search committee that included Barta, former Iowa basketball star B.J. Armstrong, associate athletics director Fred Mims, businessman and former Iowa player G. Joseph Reddington, then-Presidential Committee on Athletics Chairman Charles Lynch and Betsy Altmaier, Iowa’s faculty representative to the NCAA. The search committee was announced five days after Alford’s resignation.

“The university process is such that we’ll have a search committee,” Barta said. “We had one last time; it has not been formulated. I’ll be doing that.”

Iowa also had several coaches’ representatives contact the school directly to heighten interest. Among those include Southern Illinois’ Chris Lowery, current Wichita State Coach Gregg Marshall, current Indiana Coach Tom Crean and Northwestern (La.) State Coach Mike McConathy. Others recommended to Barta by fans or alumni include former New Mexico State and Sacramento Kings Coach Reggie Theus, current Kentucky Coach John Calipari, former UCLA Coach Steve Lavin and Clemson Coach Oliver Purnell. All of that information was provided by Iowa to The Gazette via the Freedom of Information Act.

Six days after Alford’s resignation and five days before Lickliter was hired, Iowa had 35 candidates for the position. At least eight were African-American. Finalists were Lickliter and Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings. Barta put together seven-year annual offers for Lickliter at $1.2 million and Stallings at $1.5 million. Lickliter accepted the position.

“I ended up getting the coach I felt was the best fit,” Barta said. “So I certainly don’t want to set my sights any lower.

“I’ve done searches long enough to know it could go in any number of directions. I do have some thoughts and ideas, but they will play out over the next several weeks.”

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