As Iowa ascends in the national basketball spotlight under Coach Fran McCaffery, its former coach expressed regret about leaving Iowa before he could turn around the men's basketball program.
Former Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter, who was 38-58 in three seasons with the Hawkeyes, is thriving at Indianapolis-based Marian (Ind.) University. He has the school 10-4 and ranked 20th in the latest NAIA Division II poll. According to a profile in the Indianapolis Star, Lickliter seems to have fit in nicely at the school and enjoys his proximity to his family.
Lickliter said he "had no choice" but to take the Iowa job in 2007. He was coming off an Sweet 16 berth and was named national coach of the year. Lickliter signed a seven-year, $8.4 million deal to replace Steve Alford as Iowa's coach. Lickliter struggled in multiple ways with three consecutive losing seasons, including a school-record 22 losses in his final year. Nine different scholarship players left the program with eligibility during his tenure. Attendance plummeted to all-time lows.
"I would be dishonest if I said I didn't regret it," Lickliter told the Star about leaving Butler. "I enjoyed it so much. But I was so happy for them and so thankful that I had been a part of it. What I regretted more than leaving was that I didn't have the time to duplicate it (at Iowa)."
Lickliter was fired on March 15, 2010, a Monday morning. He had an eight-minute meeting with Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta, went back to his office, grabbed his black leather jacket and walked out the door at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. He received a $2.4 million severance (four years remaining at $600,000 per year) paid in three installments of $800,000.
"Being fired nationally is a very humbling thing and it's personal," he told The Star. "People think it's not personal, but it is."