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IOWA CITY, Iowa - Fran McCaffery was just 26 years old when he was named the head basketball coach at Lehigh on Sept. 11, 1985. Twenty-seven seasons later, he got his first Power Five head coaching job at Iowa.

McCaffery had become a hot item in coaching circles after his 2009-10 Siena team won 27 games for the second straight season and earned the program’s third consecutive NCAA Tournament bid.

Iowa, looking to replace Todd Lickliter, came calling. But the Hawkeyes were not alone. Seton Hall, Iowa’s opponent Wednesday in a Gavitt Games matchup, was a serious player for McCaffery’s services. St. John’s was interested as well.

Pat Hobbs, now at Rutgers, was the athletic director at Seton Hall at the time. That school was looking to replace Bobby Gonzalez as its head coach.

“Pat Hobbs was running the search,” McCaffery said. “There are not many people more professional than that guy. He is tremendous, and he’s done a phenomenal job at Rutgers. He treated me and Margaret (McCaffery) with such respect. That is the kind of guy you want to work for. And we were real close on that one.”

The search for a new coach doesn’t follow the same blueprint at every school.

“It depends on committees and who is involved,” McCaffery said. “Is there a search firm involved, or is the athletic director making the call?”

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Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta had a search committee. The school had also hired Parker Executive Search of Atlanta, Ga., to help with the process.

“Iowa couldn’t have been any better in terms of how they handled the process,”McCaffery said. It was Gary Barta and (assistant athletic director) Fred Mims and (university president) Sally Mason, as well as the Parker firm. This was the process, this was the timetable, and they were very respectful of the fact that I had a job. So if I’m not the coach, not the one that they choose, they were not going to drag this thing out and make it difficult for me to recruit where I am.”

McCaffery initially met with Iowa officials in Atlanta, Ga. He also met with Barta and Mason in Chicago, ill., on March 27. He talked to Seton Hall a second time as well.

“So I was able to go through the process with information,” McCaffery said. “I was dealing with honorable people. I appreciated that. And then it all came to a head at the same time.”

Barta called McCaffery the morning of March 28 and offered the job which he accepted.

“Iowa was technically the first to offer, and I wanted to be in the Big Ten,” McCaffery said. “I had evaluated things from the front end (of the process).”

Seton Hall hired Kevin Willard, who left after last season to become the head coach at Maryland of the Big Ten.

Seton Hall’s new coach is Shaheen Holloway, a former point guard at the school. Holloway coached St. Peter’s, a No. 15 seed, to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament last season.