Since Fran McCaffery was hired as Iowa's head coach almost a decade ago, the faces alongside him on the Iowa sideline have been a constant, steady presence. Sherman Dillard. Kirk Speraw. Andrew Francis. Iowa had the longest-tenured coaching staff in all of Division I. No more. As reported by The Des Moines Register's Chad Leistikow, Andrew Francis is departing Iowa City:
Can confirm that Iowa assistant coach Andrew Francis (@CoachAndrewF) is leaving the basketball program. Becomes the first McCaffery assistant to depart in 9+ years. Was a tireless recruiter, fantastic program representative. Story: https://t.co/Xyne5shdlc— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) April 17, 2019
Francis is leaving Iowa for a spot on another coaching staff, but the identity of his new team has not yet been revealed.
Francis has been a mainstay of Iowa's coaching staff under Fran, but his experience with McCaffery predates Iowa. He's actually been on staff with McCaffery for 12 years -- nine at Iowa and three at Siena before that. Francis has a rep as a strong recruiter and built ties with prospects and coaches throughout the midwest.
There's no word yet on where McCaffery might turn to replace Francis, although this staff vacancy isn't likely to last long as April 26-28 is the first official evaluation period of the year for recruits and Iowa will want to be staffed up for that. Francis' departure is a blow to the continuity and stability that have been a big part of Iowa's staff for almost a decade, but it's also an opportunity. It's an opportunity to inject some new blood into the staff and bring some new ideas and new approaches to things. I'd personally like to see Fran hire a coach with a defensive background, as defensive performance has been a persistent issue for Iowa for a while under McCaffery. A new assistant coach isn't going to magically fix Iowa's defense, but even moderate improvement on that front would be very welcome.
In the meantime, though, a big thank you to Francis for the work he did at Iowa over the last nine years. He and the rest of the Iowa staff took over a program that at rock bottom and brought it back to relevance. His work on the recruiting trails and in the practice gym helped rejuvenate the Iowa program and we're very appreciative of those efforts. Thanks for a good almost-decade in Iowa City, Coach Francis, and good luck at your next stop.