Iowa extends nine coaches contracts
IOWA CITY, Iowa - - Nine head coaches of University of Iowa intercollegiate athletic programs have received contract extensions. The announcement was made Monday by Gary Barta, Henry B. and Patricia B. Tippie Director of Athletics Chair.
Head coaches in the sports of men’s basketball (Fran McCaffery), wrestling (Tom Brands), baseball (Rick Heller), women’s soccer (Dave DiIanni), women’s basketball (Lisa Bluder), women’s golf (Megan Menzel), softball (Renee Gillispie), field hockey (Lisa Cellucci) and women’s tennis (Sasha Schmid) had their contracts extended. A number of assistant coaches in several sports also received contract extensions.
“It is with great pleasure that we are able to reward our head coaches in these sports with contract extensions and adjustments,” said Barta. “I am proud of our coaches, staff and student-athletes for their successes in competition, but just as importantly for the professionalism displayed in going about their business, both athletically and academically, throughout a very difficult time due to COVID-19.”
The overall success of Iowa athletics in 2020-21 included six Big Ten Conference championships, the NCAA national championship in wrestling and an NCAA Final Four appearance by Field Hockey. Hawkeye teams won Big Ten titles in soccer (postseason), women’s gymnastics (regular season), wrestling (regular season and postseason), and men’s track and field in both the indoor and outdoor seasons. Iowa’s final ranking in the Learfield IMG College Director’s Cup (30th) marks its highest finish in the overall sports standings since 1997.
Overall, six Hawkeye head coaches earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors, six Hawkeyes were named conference Player/Athlete of the Year, and three Hawkeyes earned Freshman of the Year honors. Sixteen of Iowa’s 24 sports programs advanced to postseason competition (team or individuals).
Lisa Bluder | Women’s Basketball The program’s all-time wins leader and the dean of Big Ten women’s basketball head coaches, Lisa Bluder guided Iowa to 20 wins and a fifth place finish in the Big Ten in 2021. Bluder coached the Hawkeyes to the program’s 26th NCAA Tournament and eighth Sweet 16. Bluder was recognized as the 2019 Naismith College Coach of the Year, is a three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year, and a two-time WBCA Regional Coach of the Year. She has guided the Hawkeyes to two Big Ten Tournament championships (2001, 2019). Iowa has recorded 20 wins or more 12 of the last 14 years and finished third or better in the Big Ten standings four of the last seven seasons under her direction. Bluder recruited and coached Caitlin Clark to heights never seen by a Hawkeye freshman before. The guard was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, consensus national co-Freshman of the Year, a consensus All-American, and the recipient of the Dawn Staley Award, which is presented to the nation’s best guard. Clark poured in 799 points in 30 games (26.6 ppg). Bluder also coached 2019 Naismith and Associated Press National Player of the Year, Megan Gustafson, who is Iowa’s all-time leading scorer with 2,804 points.
Bluder’s contract now runs through June of 2026.
Tom Brands | Wrestling
Brands was named Big Ten Conference and NWCA National Coach of the Year in 2021 after leading the Hawkeyes to Big Ten and NCAA Championships. Brands has won four NCAA and six Big Ten titles in 15 seasons, crowing 13 national champions, 24 conference champions and 89 All-Americans. In 2020, a school record 17 Hawkeyes earned Academic All-Bing Ten honors. Brands and the Hawkeyes return 10 All-Americans to defend Iowa’s conference and national titles in 2022. The Hawkeyes have led the country in attendance in each of Brands’ 15 seasons and Iowa’s fan support has been critical in raising funds to construct a new training facility adjacent to Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Brands’ contract now runs through June of 2028.
Lisa Cellucci | Field Hockey
Lisa Cellucci led Iowa to a 12-6 overall record and coached the Hawkeyes to the program’s 25th NCAA Tournament and 12th Final Four during the 2021 spring season. In her seven years as head coach, Cellucci has coached 12 NFHCA All-Americans, 25 NFHCA All-West Regional selections, two NFHCA West Region Players of the Year, 16 All-Big Ten selections (eight first team), one Big Ten Player of the Year, one Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, three Big Ten Offensive Players of the Year, one Big Ten Freshman of the Year, 51 Academic All-Big Ten selections, 41 NFHCA National Academic Squad honorees, 27 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars, and 54 NFHCA National Academic Team honors. Cellucci earned back-to-back Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in 2019 and 2021 (spring). She and her staff have earned NFHCA Regional Coaching Staff of the Year, twice. In the past two seasons, Cellucci coached Katie Birch and Maddy Murphy to their third NFHCA All-American honors – an accomplishment that has only occurred eight times in program history.
Cellucci’s contract now runs through June of 2026.
Renee Gillispie | Softball
Renee Gillispie has led the Hawkeyes to 62 wins over her first three seasons. In 2021, the Hawkeyes achieved their highest regular season conference finish since 2012 and set a new program record with 26 conference wins. The Hawkeyes finished the 2020 COVID-19 shortened season 17-5 and were on pace to have their best season since 2009. Under her leadership 26 Hawkeyes have been named Academic All-Big Ten honorees, and eight have been named B1G Distinguished Scholars. The Hawkeyes have had two second team All-Big Ten selections – Allison Doocy and Denali Loecker – and Doocy was named to the NFCA All-Regional team. Loecker and Brylee Klosterman became the first Hawkeyes to be named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team.
Gillespie’s contract now runs through June of 2026.
Rick Heller | Baseball
Heller has led Iowa to six 30-win seasons and 240 victories – the third-most in school history – during his first eight seasons. The Hawkeyes have competed in two NCAA Regionals, won the first Big Ten Tournament title in school history, and won a silver medal at the World University Games.
Along with seeing 23 players drafted under his watch in the MLB Draft, Heller has had nine players earn All-America distinction and has coached at least one first-team All-Big Ten selection in six of his eight seasons. Heller has also coached a Big Ten Player of the Year (Jake Adams) and Big Ten Pitcher of the Year (Trenton Wallace) during his Hawkeye tenure. Off the field, the Hawkeyes had a school record 17 Academic All-Big Ten honorees in 2021.
Heller’s contract now runs through June of 2026.
Fran McCaffery | Men’s Basketball Over the last three seasons, McCaffery has coached Iowa to 20+ wins and NCAA Tournament victories in 2019 and 2021. Iowa earned a No. 2 seed at the 2021 NCAA Tournament, matching the highest seed in program history. This past season, he guided Iowa to 14 conference wins -- the most in Big Ten play since 1987 – and eight victories over ranked opponents. McCaffery, the third longest tenured men’s basketball coach in the Big Ten, recruited and coached Luka Garza, the most decorated player in program history. Garza was a two-time Big Ten and National Player of the Year, Pete Newell Big Man of the Year, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year, and unanimous consensus first-team All-American. He rewrote Iowa’s record book earning consensus 2021 National Player of the Year laurels, including winning the prestigious Naismith Trophy, John R. Wooden Award, and Oscar Robertson Trophy. Garza broke Iowa’s career (2,306) and single-season (747) scoring records and is the only Big Ten player to amass more than 2,250 points and 900 rebounds.
McCaffery has had a player earn first-team All-Big Ten accolades over the last eight seasons. Under his direction, Iowa has registered 20 wins or more in seven of the past nine seasons and upper-division Big Ten finishes eight of the past nine years. McCaffery’s contract now runs through June of 2028.
Dave DiIanni | Women’s Soccer
DiIanni led the Hawkeyes to the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons for the first time in program history. The team earned an at-large berth in 2019 before going on a magical run in 2020 to win the first Big Ten Tournament title in school history as the No. 12 seed. The program continued to make history, downing Campbell to notch the first NCAA Tournament win in school history. In seven seasons, DiIanni has guided the program to 68 victories with 22 coming over the past two seasons. Under DiIanni’s watch, the Hawkeyes have excelled academically, earning the United Soccer Team Academic Award. DiIanni coached two Academic All-Americans in consecutive seasons and the program has had 19 Academic All-Big Ten selections in each of the past two seasons.
DiIanni’s contract now runs through June of 2026.
Megan Menzel | Women's Golf In her 10th season overseeing the women’s golf program, Menzel guided the Hawkeyes to four top four finishes in 2021, including winning the UNI Spring Invite and finishing runners-up at the Chattanooga Classic and BYU Spring Classic. Iowa had a runner-up finisher(s) in three tournaments: Lea Zeitler (Rebel Beach Invitational); Jacque Galloway (BYU Spring Classic); and Morgan Goldstein and Klara Wildhaber (UNI Spring Invite). Goldstein, a sophomore, finished inside the top 25 in six of eight tournaments. Off the course, eight student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten laurels, while Galloway, Zeitler, and Dana Lerner were named Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-American Scholars. Menzel’s contract now runs through June of 2024.
Sasha Schmid | Women’s Tennis
Schmid led the Hawkeyes through a record-breaking season in 2021, finishing the season with a 12-6 overall record and a 12-4 Big Ten record, the best conference record in program history. Iowa ended its 2021 season ranked No. 41 in the final ITA College Rankings, and reached as high as No. 37 on the season, the highest team ranking since 2011. Iowa freshman Alexa Noel became the first All-American and the first Big Ten Player of the Year in program history.
Schmid’s contract now runs through June of 2024.