Iowa Hires Butler's Todd Lickliter As Head Coach

Tuesday, April 3rd 2007, 9:49 am

By: News On 6

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) _ In its quest to take Iowa basketball to the next level, the Hawkeyes have turned to Butler's Todd Lickliter _ a mid-major coach fresh off an appearance in the NCAA tournament's round of 16.

Sound familiar? It should to Iowa fans, who weren't exactly enamored with how that strategy played out last time.

Lickliter will be introduced by the university at a news conference Tuesday, replacing Steve Alford. He was 131-61 in six years at Butler and took the Bulldogs to the NCAA tournament four times. Butler finished 29-7 last season, losing to eventual champions Florida in the tournament's round of 16.

Alford, who left for New Mexico on March 23, came to Iowa in 1999 after leading Southwest Missouri State to the round of 16.

Many thought the former Indiana star turned hotshot coach was the perfect man to lead Iowa in college basketball's elite. But after reaching nine NCAA tournaments in 13 seasons prior to Alford's arrival, things only got worse for the Hawkeyes under his leadership.

Iowa has just one NCAA tournament win in the past eight seasons, and attendance declined rapidly near the end of Alford's tenure.

In an Iowa TV station poll performed the day Alford was introduced at New Mexico, 82 percent of Iowa fans said they were happy to see him go.

Lickliter had his best season at Butler in 2006-07. The Bulldogs won the NIT Season Tip-off championship and were ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 for 16 consecutive weeks.

``Todd gave us six great years and lifted our program to unprecedented heights,'' said Butler athletic director Barry Collier. ``We're grateful for what he's done for Butler University, and we wish him the very best in his new position.''

Collier will begin an immediate search to find Lickliter's successor.

Iowa went 17-14 last season, missing out on postseason play after winning the Big Ten tournament in 2006. Athletic director Gary Barta said shortly after the Big Ten tournament that the team needed to improve next season _ which will be difficult given that the Hawkeyes lose their best player, senior guard Adam Haluska.

Iowa had initially turned to Tennessee's Bruce Pearl, who was an assistant with the Hawkeyes from 1986-92. The Hawkeyes received permission from Tennessee to formally interview Pearl just three days after Alford' departure, but Pearl quickly turned them down.

Lickliter is Barta's first major hire at Iowa since succeeding current Stanford A.D. Bob Bowlsby last summer. He was in transit from Atlanta to Iowa City and unavailable for comment, Iowa officials said.

Lickliter was also unavailable for immediate comment Monday night.

``I wish Todd well. He's given us six great years, but boy am I disappointed that we're losing him,'' Butler University President Bobby Fong told Indianapolis television station WISH in an interview Monday night.

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