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UNLV coach T.J. Otzelberger is expected to be named the next coach at Iowa State, sources confirmed to CBS Sports on Wednesday. The news was first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Sources added that those within UNLV’s athletic department and men’s basketball program believe the move is imminent. Barring any last-minute significant barricade, Iowa State has secured its next coach. The 43-year-old Otzelberger spent the past two seasons in Las Vegas, going 28-29. Prior to that he coached South Dakota State for three seasons and made two NCAA Tournaments with a 70-33 record.
The move happened swiftly — within 24 hours — of Iowa State officially firing Steve Prohm after his six years on the job. One source told CBS Sports that Iowa State will have to pay approximately $5.5 million to Prohm due to firing him, and then could owe UNLV somewhere between $4-4.5 million for Otzelberger’s buyout. On paper the buyout number is just north of $3 million. The hefty million-dollar-plus difference will depend upon whether or not Iowa State can treat the buyout as a business expense (no tax fees would kick in) or if the transaction gets attached to taxable income (which would raise it to the $4 million neighborhood).
A timeline on the school officially announcing the Otzelberger hire isn’t known; one source speculated Iowa State might delay a bit longer as to not announce a hiring so soon after firing Prohm, in addition to any other key details that still need to be arranged. In September, ISU athletic director Jamie Pollard said his athletic department was facing approximately a $30 million deficit due to effects from the COVID-19 pandemic. Staffers across the athletic department took pay cuts to stave off layoffs.
Otzelberger worked as an assistant at Iowa State from 2006-2013, then again for one season in 2015-16 before getting the South Dakota State job. Another source added that Pollard has long targeted Otzelberger to be the replacement.
“It’s been done for about a month now,” the source said.
Iowa State is coming off one of its worst seasons in history, going 2-22 overall and 0-18 in the Big 12.