IOWA CITY, IOWA (AP) - Kirk Ferentz has said for years that he doesn’t plan on leaving Iowa anytime soon, turning down overtures to the NFL seemingly offseason.
He’s given the school yet another reason to rest at ease.
Ferentz has agreed to a five-year contract extension through 2020, possibly keeping him in charge of the Hawkeyes for the rest of his career. The new deal was announced Thursday and bumps Ferentz’s salary from roughly $3 million per season to nearly $3.7 million starting immediately.
Iowa spokesman Steve Roe said that the deal should be signed Friday, and it would make Ferentz the highest paid coach in the Big Ten.
The announcement came two days before Iowa kicks off its most anticipated season in years.
The ninth-ranked Hawkeyes, coming off an 11-2 season and a win in the Orange Bowl, return one of the best defenses in the nation and several offensive stars, including quarterback Ricky Stanzi and running back Adam Robinson. They host Eastern Illinois on Saturday.
Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said in a statement that the contract extension supports his goal of retaining Ferentz until he retires.
The 55-year-old coach is in his 12th season at Iowa, where he also served as an assistant under Hayden Fry in the 1980s. Last year, Ferentz was voted the Big Ten’s Coach of the Year for the third time, after leading Iowa to a win over Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
Ferentz’s name has been linked to a number of NFL openings since he won The Associated Press National Coach of the Year in 2002. He never made the jump from Iowa City, though, and now appears set to join Fry serving as head coach for at least 20 years.
“Kirk is arguably the best football coach in the country,” Barta said. “Beyond that, he and his wife, Mary, are world-class people who care deeply about the university and the state.”