IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa men’s basketball assistant coach Kirk Speraw announced his retirement, effective June 30, after 43 years of coaching college basketball. The announcement was made Wednesday by head coach Fran McCaffery.
Speraw began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Hall of Fame head coach Lute Olson on Iowa’s 1980 Final Four team and concludes as a 12-year assistant coach on McCaffery’s staff that won the 2022 Big Ten Tournament championship.
“Kirk has been the ultimate professional and an important part of our basketball program since I arrived in Iowa City,” said McCaffery. “Kirk was well-respected by the players and was one of the key components of rebuilding the program. His knowledge of the game and relationships that he developed with the players, families and fans will be greatly missed. It has been an honor to work alongside Kirk all these years.”
“I was fortunate that Coach Olson gave me my start in coaching here at the University of Iowa and I am grateful that Coach McCaffery and Gary Barta brought me back to my alma mater to finish my coaching career with a Big Ten championship,” Speraw said. “I want to thank my wife, Tracy, and our four kids (Drew, Brooke, Dustin, Bailey) for their support and patience throughout my coaching career. And I want to thank all the student-athletes that I have had the honor to coach throughout my career. Go Hawks!”
The Sioux City, Iowa, native helped guide the Hawkeyes to 20 or more wins eight of the last 10 years. Speraw and the Hawkeyes placed fifth or better in the Big Ten standings six of the last eight seasons, including a third-place finish in 2021.
In 2022, the Hawkeyes won four games in four days to capture the Big Ten Tournament title, their third in program history. Iowa finished fourth in the conference standings and won 26 games; the second highest single season win total in program history.
Speraw and the coaching staff recruited and coached a first-team All-Big Ten honoree seven of the last nine years, including two of the most dominating players in college basketball each of the last three years. Luka Garza was twice named national player of the year and a consensus first-team All-America selection in 2020 and 2021, while Keegan Murray was a finalist for the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy, earned consensus first-team All-America laurels and was named the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year in 2022.
Over the last three seasons, Iowa combined to win 68 games — fourth most over a three-year stretch in program history and most since 1987-89 — finished each season ranked in the AP Poll — something that has not been accomplished in more than three decades — and won 17 contests over AP Top 25 opponents. Additionally, Iowa has had the Big Ten scoring champion each of the past three seasons, which is something that has not been accomplished by any team in the league in more than 50 years.
Speraw and the Hawkeyes led the Big Ten in scoring each of the past three seasons, including ranking fifth nationally in 2021 (83.7) and 2022 (83.2). Iowa averaged more than 83 points in consecutive seasons for the first time in 27 years. Iowa was also tops in Division I in assist-to-turnover ratio in 2021 (2.0) and 2022 (1.74).
Speraw was the primary assistant who worked with Iowa’s perimeter players. In 2017, shooting guard Peter Jok became Iowa’s fifth Big Ten scoring champion in school history, averaging 19.9 points per game. Two years ago, Joe Wieskamp earned second-team all-conference laurels and was the only Division I player in the country with 400+ points, 200+ rebounds, 70+ 3-pointers and 25+ steals.
Speraw also helped mentor guard Jordan Bohannon to historic heights. Bohannon is Iowa’s career leader in assists (704), 3-pointers (455), free throw percentage (.887), double-doubles in points and assists (8) and games played (179). Jok and Bohannon combined for 174 triples in 2017, the most by a duo in a single season at Iowa. Bohannon is the only player in program history to total more than 2,000 points and 700 assists. Lastly, his 10 3-pointers at Maryland in 2022 established a new benchmark for 3-point field goals made in a game by a Hawkeye and broke the Xfinity Arena record.
As both an assistant and head coach, Speraw mentored dozens of players who played professionally, including Iowa’s Ronnie Lester, Steve Krafcisin, Vince Brookins, Steve Waite, Kenny Arnold, Kevin Boyle, Mark Gannon, Bobby Hansen, Devyn Marble, Aaron White, Jarrod Uthoff, Anthony Clemmons, Adam Woodbury, Jok, Garza and Wieskamp.
Prior to his successful coaching career, Speraw was on Olson’s Hawkeye roster for four seasons (1976-79), including lettering on the 1979 Big Ten regular season championship team.
After advancing to the 1980 Final Four as a graduate assistant, Speraw moved to Denver University, where he was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for former Iowa assistant coach Floyd Theard for two years (1981-82).
Speraw rejoined the Hawkeyes after serving 17 years as head coach at the University of Central Florida (1994-2010). During his tenure, 18 players received all-league honors, including four first-team honorees and 54 student-athletes earned academic all-conference recognition. His tenure included four NCAA Tournament berths (1994, ’96, ’04 and ‘05). In 2007, he was recognized as Conference USA Coach of the Year after guiding the Knights to 22 victories and a second-place league finish. His most successful season at UCF was in 2004, when the Knights won 25 games, received votes in the Top 25 and won the Atlantic Sun Championship, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Prior to his head coaching job at UCF, Speraw served as an assistant coach at the University of Florida for three seasons (1991-93) under head coach Lon Kruger. While on the Florida staff, the Gators participated in two NIT’s, including advancing to the semifinals in 1992.
Prior to his three years in Gainesville, Speraw was the head coach at Pensacola Junior College (PJC) from 1988-90. At PJC, he led the Pirates to an 82-21 record and three consecutive Panhandle Conference titles. Speraw was tabbed the NABC/Kodak National Junior College Coach of the Year, as well as the state’s Coach of the Year after his 1990 team won 31 games and finished fifth nationally.
Speraw also had a coaching stop at Florida Southern, serving as an assistant from 1983-87. The Moccasins made four appearances in the Division II NCAA Tournament, including a third-place finish in 1986.