The Iowa athletic department will not renew its contract with longtime baseball coach Jack Dahm, athletic director Gary Barta announced Thursday:
"Jack has been a first-class ambassador for the University of Iowa the past 10 years," said Barta. "I'm grateful for the mentorship and leadership he showed his student-athletes every day."
The search for a new head coach will be national and begin immediately.
"Hawkeye baseball has a rich history and tradition," said Barta. "We will look for someone who has demonstrated success competitively and academically, and someone who fits the culture at the University of Iowa."
Dahm just finished his tenth season at the helm of the Iowa baseball program with a 22-27 record and 10-14 mark in Big Ten play. In his ten seasons in charge, Dahm has managed winning records just twice and finished above eighth in the conference only three times, never better than third. He leaves with a 235-302 overall record and 116-161 record in the Big Ten. He came to Iowa in 2004 after ten seasons at Creighton, so there seems to be a pattern emerging.
Iowa baseball is a thankless job. Fan support is minimal. The schedule is brutal. Iowa routinely plays more than a month of road games through late February and most of March before their first home date. Just keeping your players academically eligible through that first stretch on the road has to be difficult (something that Dahm excelled at). Even once home games begin in late March or early April, there's always a decent chance of snow or cold canceling games. At the very least, the conditions make attendance sparse. Recruiting in those conditions is nearly impossible. Iowa's roster is basically built from nearby kids; 30 of Iowa's 33 players are either from Iowa or a state that borders Iowa, none of which are baseball hotbeds. Northern schools have been successful at baseball in the recent past, but those schools -- Nebraska, Oregon State, Creighton -- come (or, in Nebraska's case, came) from baseball-heavy conferences with warm-weather conference recruiting bases.
Iowa would need a big name coach and an infusion of cash for practice facilities or an indoor stadium to make the program work. In an era where schools would rather cut baseball than fund it, that seems highly unlikely. All we can ask for, then, is someone to keep the program afloat and be an ambassador for the program. Dahm did all of those things, even if he didn't win at all.
So farewell, Jack Dahm. I have a feeling you'll be missed.