Beware the Ides of March: Todd Lickliter Fired As Head Coach at Iowa

B.Senior Analyst IMarch 15, 2010

MADISON - JANUARY 5:  Head coach Todd Lickliter of Iowa Hawkeyes hangs his head while sitting on the bench during the college basketball game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Kohl Center on January 5, 2008 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Like Julius Caesar long ago, March 15 turned out to be a horrible day Iowa coach Todd Lickliter .

It's fitting that on the historic Ides of March, a scenario within the University of Iowa men's basketball program would play out very much like a day back in 44 B.C., when Caesar was stabbed to death on the floor of the Roman Senate by Marcus Junius Brutus and several other co-conspirators.

Iowa's version of the drama began as a small murmur on a message board and quickly turned into a screaming public mob of angry fans calling for change.

On Monday, Iowa's athletic director Gary Barta stepped up to play the part of Brutus in this drama, driving the final dagger into Lickliter's tenure as a Hawkeye.  

It was reported by the Gazette Online 's Scott Dochterman that Barta met with Lickliter this morning in a meeting that started at 9:00 a.m. and lasted less than 10 minutes. Shortly there after, the university announced a press conference had been set at Carver-Hawkeye Arena "to discuss the future of the Iowa basketball program."

Barta announced at the press conference that the future of Iowa men's basketball program no longer involved Lickliter as head coach.

Lickliter signed a seven-year contract back in 2007 that included a $600,000-a-year buyout clause for each year remaining on his contract, should he be fired without cause.  With four years left on his contract, he will be owed nearly $2.4 million. Barta said in the press conference that he will honor that clause.

Majority of the fans feel there was definitely "cause" for termination, though.

Statistically, Lickliter's three-year stretch as head coach at Iowa has been the worst three years in the history of the program.

Iowa's 22 losses on the year is a single-season record. The Hawkeyes lost 10 of their last 12 games, including a 27-point loss to Wisconsin and a 35-point loss at Minnesota. Both losses were the worst in the history of those two rivalries.

Attendance at home games has dropped off drastically.  Actual attendance hovers around 5,000, one-third of the capacity seating at Carver-Hawkeye Arena .

The speculation surrounding this drama started last week, as more rumors began to surface on the Hawkeye Lounge and Hawkeye Nation message boards about the possibility of player transfers. The rumors were very specific, and mentioned that a couple of players approached the athletic director about taking their talents elsewhere.

Those rumors sparked radio host and long time Iowa Hawkeye contributor Jon Miller, who operates the Hawkeye Nation website, to finally let his opinion about the state of the program be known in a live on-air radio broadcast.

Many long time supporters felt the way Miller did, but he was the first to come out and say something publicly.

Then, a radio station out of Iowa City, KCJJ , posted a message to their Facebook page claiming to have sources claiming Lickliter would step down following the season over concerns with his health. After their loss, Lickliter was fielded several questions about the story and denied having any healthy concerns.

Barta issued a vague four-sentence statement to the press after the game, but made no mention of anything specific.

Three days later came his announcement.

"This morning, I had a meeting with Todd Lickliter and informed him that he was no longer the men’s basketball coach at Iowa," explained Barta.

A cloud of uncertainty now surrounds the program.  It is unclear who Iowa will target to replace Lickliter, or whether the team will suffer any player/recruit defections as a result of the change.

For now, fans will have to be content with daydreaming about the new possibilities.