Entering his third decade of coaching the Panthers
Northern Iowa Coach Mark Farley on the sideline during the second half of a Missouri Valley Conference game against Missouri State on March 20 at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
CEDAR FALLS — Northern Iowa announced Monday that it’s extended the contract of head football coach Mark Farley through 2026.
Farley, who will enter his 21st year at the helm of the program this fall, is UNI and the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s winningest coach of all-time and a 2007 recipient of the Eddie Robinson Award.
Farley is 162-87, and his Panthers are coming off a 3-4 record this spring after dealing with numerous injuries and COVID-19 absences.
The Waukon native has led the Panthers to seven MVFC championships, 12 playoff appearances and a runner-up finish in 2005.
Most notable within Farley’s extension is a pay reduction to help the university’s athletics department as it continues to deal with financial losses due to the pandemic.
“I think it speaks volumes about his unselfishness and his love of this place. His love of Panther football. His love of Panther athletics and his willingness to do whatever is necessary to be able to put us in a better position,” UNI Athletics Director David Harris said. “While it speaks to us having a relationship where I can make that request, I think it speaks more about him.”
Farley, meanwhile, after thanking Harris and University President Mark Nook, spoke about upcoming facility upgrades — a new team meeting room and an artificial turf outdoor practice facility both set to be completed this fall — that he says will make UNI more competitive with the elite FCS programs.
“They’re enormous for us,” Farley said. “No word is really big enough to emphasize what this means. The last big move that we made was when we redid the weight room and redid our locker room in the Dome. And that was back in 2007. The two things that we’re building, are two things that have an immediate impact on the student-athlete.”
Besides its shovel-ready upgrades, UNI’s release acknowledged progress on fundraising for “transformative renovations” to the UNI-Dome and mentioned Farley’s role in helping secure funding for what will ultimately be the most expensive facility upgrade since the university constructed McLeod Center for $18 million in 2004.
“The Dome is a diamond. No question about it,” Farley said. “Sometimes you have to shine that diamond and we’re in the process of doing that right now in the upcoming phases that we’re going to go into.”
When it comes to football and entering his third decade leading the Panthers, Farley says keeping the program competitive throughout the MVFC’s ascension as the FCS’s premier conference has been all about adapting and will continue to be.
“To do what we’ve done as long as we’ve done it, you have to be able to adapt,” Farley said. “I think since probably 2014 or 2015 on this has become, as of today, the most dominant conference there is. That’s what’s really changed. Recruiting has changed. Resources have changed. Talent has changed and the game of football has changed. When you look at what’s going on within this athletics department right now, we’re stepping up, meeting and exceeding the demands of this league.”