Hoiberg contract suggests NBA next stop

Fred Hoiberg is not the only coach who’s guiding his alma mater.

But few, if any, boast the connection that Hoiberg has to Iowa State.

He was born in Ames. He walked to Cyclones games when he was a kid. His father worked for the university.

So when it was time to pick a school, the multi-sport standout chose to stay home and star for his hometown team.

That’s why they now call him “The Mayor.”

But his success with the Cyclones has made him one of the most coveted coaches on the college circuit. And he just turned 40.

The Cyclones tried to keep schools away with the 10-year, $20 million contract he signed last month. That contract reportedly contains a $2 million buyout clause. Terms were unveiled on Tuesday.

From ESPN.com:

Hoiberg agreed to a new 10-year, $20 million deal in March after leading Iowa State to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances.

Hoiberg would essentially owe a year's salary to Iowa State if he leaves for another school. Hoiberg's buyout will be just $500,000 if he accepts a job as a head coach or general manager in the NBA.

Hoiberg also receives $250,000 for reaching the Final Four and $100,000 for winning or tying for the Big 12 regular season title.

Any college program that wants Hoiberg will be forced to pay. That’s a lot of money on the surface.

But in big-time college athletics, it’s not an insurmountable amount for any team that really wants Hoiberg.

And if he continues to succeed with his current program, other schools will continue to call.

His new contract, however, suggests that he’s prepared to stay in Ames for a long time … unless the NBA calls.

Hoiberg could ultimately turn pro.

During our conversation in Ames a few months ago, he mentioned that he initially thought he’d begin his career in the NBA.

And I honestly believe that’s his next step. The buyout might deter college teams, but the NBA -- he was an executive with the Minnesota Timberwolves after he retired in 2006 due to a heart condition -- could be his final destination.

I think Hoiberg is one of the top young head coaches in America. He’s led the Cyclones to consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. And he’s enhanced the program’s recruiting pool.

But he’s an NBA coach or executive.

Maybe not in the near future. I think he will end his career there, though.

The $500,000 sum -- if he leaves to join an NBA franchise -- is peanuts for the billionaires who run the NBA.

That’s just the truth.

Any program needs the stability Hoiberg has given Iowa State.

On Tuesday, Washington announced that former Iowa State assistant and associate head coach T.J. Otzelberger had left the program for an assistant position with the Huskies. That’s a big loss for the Cyclones.

This, however, is not a fractured program. Hoiberg has created a culture of consistency and continuity in Ames. That’s why the Cyclones offered him a long-term deal. That’s why folks avoid panic when a top assistant takes another job -- at least, they shouldn’t panic with a solid program.

But I don’t believe the door is closed on a Hoiberg departure.

Now, I don’t think Hoiberg would bolt -- at the collegiate level -- for just any school. I think the blue-chip programs might have a shot at him.

But that $2 million won’t stop them or their deep-pocketed boosters from pursuing him. And I don’t think it would stop Hoiberg if he had to come up with most or all of that money. He made millions in the NBA. And per friends, he’s an astute businessman (he owns multiple car dealerships).

When rumors connecting him to Minnesota percolated last month, I never thought he’d actually leave. And he didn’t.

Hoiberg will not leave Iowa State for any trivial reason or opportunity. When we talked, he said he loved the fact that his kids had both sets of grandparents in town. He has everything he wants and needs in Ames. No reason to leave right now.

It’s going to take a lot to make him consider a move.

That $2 million buyout, however, does not guarantee anything. It’s security for a fan base that wants him to stay forever.

The $500,000 payback if he takes an NBA gig? Meaningless amount of money if Hoiberg really wants a job at that level.

Perhaps he will stay in Ames forever.

But this is just the beginning of his coaching career. More offers may come.

And the right opportunity could end Hoiberg’s time in Ames, as unbelievable as that seems right now.

His contract buyout clauses suggest, however, that the opportunity would be at the pro level, not on another campus.