IOWA CITY – Matt Gatens, the Iowa senior guard who averaged more than 30 points per game last week, has applied to the NCAA for a fifth season of eligibility.
Gatens committed to play for the Hawkeyes as a high school freshman. At the time, Steve Alford held the reins of the Iowa basketball program. Following the 2006-07 season, Alford left for New Mexico. Former Butler head coach Todd Lickliter took over the Iowa basketball program.
“When [athletics director Gary] Barta hired Lickliter, they held some big roll-out at Carver-Hawkeye Arena,” said Gatens. “They said Lickliter would usher in a new era of Hawkeye hoops.
“Yeah, it was a new era, alright. Lick almost killed the program.”
Lickliter, who put up a 38-57 record at Iowa, was fired in 2010.
“I grew up in Iowa City and always wanted to be a Hawkeye,” recalled Gatens. “I never really considered not following through with my commitment when Lickliter. I mean, it would be like dumping your girlfriend after you paralyze her in a car accident. I’m not Luke Recker.
“But those Lickliter years were a joke.”
Former Sienna coach Fran McCaffery was hired to replace Lickliter in 2010. Gatens was finally playing for a coach who knew how to coach Big Ten basketball.
“Coach McCaffery has been great,” said Gatens. “I just wish I could have played for him for all four years. He runs an offense that doesn’t put people to sleep.”
Gatens said he found the “Lickliter Hardship” provision by accident.
“We were drinking one night and just Googling goofy stuff like ‘Cully Payne highlights’ and ‘John Lickliter scholarship offers’. I just stumbled across it.”
Under the provision, any NCAA player who, between his verbal commitment to a member school and his graduation therefrom, is made to experience Todd Lickliter as a head coach, is eligible for one additional year of eligibility.
“It sounds like a slam dunk case,” said Gatens. “I mean, the NCAA is aware of the Lickliter situation at Iowa. I should have no problem getting the extra year.”