Iowa men’s basketball assistant coach Kirk Speraw to retire

Speraw spent 43 years as a collegiate men’s basketball coach, including 12 as an assistant at Iowa.


Gabby Drees

Iowa assistant coach Kirk Speraw practices with players before a basketball game between Iowa and Southeastern Louisiana at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Lions 93-62.

Chloe Peterson, Assistant Sports Editor

Longtime Iowa men’s basketball assistant coach Kirk Speraw is retiring, head coach Fran McCaffery announced Wednesday via release. Speraw’s last official day with the Hawkeyes is June 30.

Speraw has coached college basketball for 43 years, starting his career as a graduate assistant under former Iowa head coach Lute Olson in 1980. Speraw played for Olson from 1976-79. 

“I was fortunate that coach Olson gave me my start in coaching here at the University of Iowa, and I am grateful that coach McCaffery and Gary Barta brought me back to my alma mater to finish my coaching career with a Big Ten Championship,” Speraw said in a release. “I want to thank my wife, Tracy, and our four kids [Drew, Brooke, Dustin, Bailey] for their support and patience throughout my coaching career. And I want to thank all the student-athletes that I have had the honor to coach throughout my career. Go Hawks!”

Between his two stints with the Hawkeyes, Speraw made stops at Denver University, Pensacola Junior College, Florida Southern, Central Florida, and the University of Florida between 1983 and 2010.

Speraw was Pensacola Junior College’s head coach for two seasons, compiling a 82-21 record. 

He spent 17 years, from 1993-2010, as the head coach at UCF. He led the Knights to four NCAA Tournament berths and was tabbed Conference USA Coach of the Year in 2007. Speraw became the program’s all-time winningest coach with a 279-233 record. UCF fired Speraw after the Knights went 15-17 overall and 6-10 in C-USA play in 2009-10.

Speraw returned to Iowa in 2010 as part of McCaffery’s first coaching staff. He was an assistant under McCaffery for 12 years, helping coach the 2021-22 teamto its first Big Ten Tournament title since 2006. 

Speraw coached many dominant Hawkeye players in his tenure, including two-time national player of the year Luka Garza, first-team All-American Keegan Murray, and Big Ten scoring champion Peter Jok. He was also a mentor to graduating sixth-year senior guard Jordan Bohannon, who holds five Iowa career records.

“Kirk has been the ultimate professional and an important part of our basketball program since I arrived in Iowa City,” McCaffery said via release. “Kirk was well-respected by the players and was one of the key components of rebuilding the program. His knowledge of the game and relationships that he developed with the players, families and fans will be greatly missed. It has been an honor to work alongside Kirk all these years.”

Speraw is the second assistant coach to leave the program this offseason. Former Hawkeye assistant Billy Taylor left Iowa for a head coaching job at Elon in North Carolina on April 15. 

McCaffery elevated Courtney Eldridge, Iowa’s director of recruiting and player development, to Taylor’s unoccupied assistant role on April 25.

The Hawkeyes will be in the market for a new assistant coach and director of recruiting and player development following Speraw’s departure. Iowa has not specified a deadline in which it will have its vacancies filled.

Iowa is returning 11 players from its 2021-22 Big Ten Championship team in 2022-23. Murray left for the NBA, and Bohannon ran out of eligibility. Junior Joe Toussaint transferred to West Virginia, and senior Austin Ash entered the transfer portal. Sophomore Kris Murray also entered the NBA Draft, but he did not hire an agent and has until June 1 to return to Iowa.

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