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Monday, July 27, 2009

Iowa Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz signs 7-year, $21 million contract





July 20, 2009 12:50 PM

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta wasn't worried back in May, and evidently he had no reason to be.

Even though we live in the put-it-in-writing age, Barta knew head coach Kirk Ferentz would eventually sign on the dotted line before the season. Last week, Ferentz came through and signed his new contract, which had been agreed upon back in February.

The new deal takes Ferentz through the 2015 season. It doesn't include any changes to his salary or bonus structure, and he will continue to earn $3.02 million annually. Ferentz enters his 11th season at Iowa and is the Big Ten's second-longest tenured coach behind Penn State's Joe Paterno.

Monday's announcement revealed that Ferentz's new contract will give him access to a private plane for up to 35 hours of personal use each year. Costs for the plane could reach up to $85,000, all of which will come from contributions to Iowa's I-Club booster organizations.

"Kirk is well compensated," Barta said in a statement. "He's earned that opportunity, but he's also greatly appreciative. While we haven't given him a raise the past three years and there isn't one in the new agreement. Access to a plane provides a form of compensation that recognizes the extreme time demands placed on him throughout the year. It's a 24-7 job. This is one way to reduce some of the stress the position places on his personal and family life."

Wonder if ESPN.com can get me the same perk? Ah, to dream.

Anyway, Iowa has to be glad Ferentz is fully on board for the foreseeable future. Despite the program's off-field problems the last few years, things appear to be turning around between the lines. The Hawkeyes come off a victory in the Outback Bowl and likely will enter the fall ranked in the top 20.

The incessant NFL rumors regarding Ferentz don't figure to go away any time soon, but the new contract undoubtedly will aid him and his assistants on the recruiting trail.

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