New Iowa St coach T.J. Otzelberger agrees to 5-year contract


New Iowa State basketball coach T.J. Otzelberger has agreed to a five-year contract that will be loaded with incentive bonuses, athletic director Jamie Pollard said Friday.

Terms were still being worked out, Pollard said, but the deal will be structured creatively to account for the athletic department’s financial problems stemming from the pandemic.

“T.J.’s passion for wanting to be here outweighs him saying this is just about money and ‘I need to make whatever I can make,’” Pollard said. “The actual contract will probably take some time to work our way through it.”

Otzelberger was earning $1.2 million in the second year of his five-year contract at UNLV.

Iowa State’s athletic department faces a $25 million budget shortfall this year and also owes fired basketball coach Steve Prohm $5 million to buy out his contract.

“Having T.J.’s willingness to have a contract that has a base salary with incentives that clearly will reward him if we’re successful, but at the same time, allows us to essentially pay ourselves back because we have to put in a considerable amount of money here in the short term just to make the change,” Pollard said.

The 43-year-old Otzelberger had two stints as an Iowa State assistant before taking head coaching jobs at South Dakota State and UNLV. He returns to take over a program that went 2-22 and was winless in the Big 12.

Iowa State was the second-lowest scoring team in the Big 12 (65.6 ppg) and allowed the most points per game (76.7). Otzelberger promised a team that would play with high intensity on both ends of the court.

“Offensively we’re going to look to play up-tempo, we’re going to value the basketball, we’re going to share the basketball, and we’re going to create great opportunities,” Otzelberger said. “Defensively, we’re going to be stingy. You’re going to have to earn everything, and there’s going to be no easy baskets against the Cyclones.”

Otzelberger’s last two teams at South Dakota State finished in the top seven nationally in scoring offense. His two teams at UNLV were middle-of-the-pack in offense and defense.

Otzelberger has a strong reputation as a recruiter, and he said he didn’t know how hard he’ll scour the transfer portal for players.

“We’re going to establish the Cyclone brand throughout the Midwest,” Otzelberger said. “This is going to be the option in the Big 12. We’re going to recruit aggressively throughout the upper Midwest, but most importantly in the state of Iowa.”

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