Lickliter could be out after 10-22 mark

Updated: March 11, 2010, 6:04 PM ET
By Adam Rittenberg | ESPN.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- Iowa coach Todd Lickliter left Conseco Fieldhouse on Thursday with his future in doubt.

Lickliter said after Iowa's 59-52 loss to Michigan in the first round of the Big Ten tournament he didn't know whether he'd return for a fourth season. Iowa finished 10-22, and Lickliter has a 38-58 record in three seasons with the Hawkeyes after coming over from Butler.

He has four years remaining on his contract.

"I don't know what's going to happen," Lickliter said. "People have to make those decisions, but we've invested, players have gotten better and this team is better than the first two teams that won more games. & You're asking me to answer on speculation. I haven't been told I'm not [head coach], so until I'm not I'm not, I am."

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta didn't meet with reporters Thursday, but issued a statement that left Lickliter's future open-ended.

"It's been a tough season, but the future is very bright with this group," Barta said in the statement. "With the season ending today, I'll do what I do at the end of every year. I'll evaluate 2010 and make preparations for next season."

Barta gave Lickliter a vote of confidence in January, saying, "I like where we're headed when I see the recruits we're bringing in. I like the way Todd goes about it."

Lickliter has endured a wave of transfers since his arrival in Iowa City, including the departures of Jake Kelly and Jeff Peterson. He also battled health problems this year, and the team lost its final two regular-season games by a combined 62 points.

Attendance has declined at home games, and Lickliter's deliberate style of play has been criticized.

"The recruits that we've targeted that we feel like are going to be able to compete have got to go through some tough times," Lickliter said Thursday. "We're not recruiting an All-Big Ten player to Iowa their freshman year. If we do, great, if we can find him. But realistically, what we've had to do is recruit players who can develop into that.

"That's hard for players to go through: the frustration, the grind, the hard work. So we've had to continue to fight through some of that."

Hawkeyes guard Cully Payne, who scored a career high 25 points Thursday, continues to support the coach.

"We've got a great foundation and we're excited for coach," Payne said. "We're by his side the whole way. I can speak for our freshman class and our whole team that coach is our guy."

Adam Rittenberg covers Big Ten football for ESPN.com. He can be reached at espnritt@gmail.com