Thursday, April 17, 2008

Travis Ford Bites Boone Pickens' Carrot

Travis Ford, the men’s basketball coach at U of Massachusetts, has been hired to coach the men’s team at Oklahoma State. Mike Holder, the athletic director, will make the official announcement on Thursday. Oddly, Travis Ford had told UMass last week that he would be staying after having dangled an offer from Providence as a way of forcing UMass to increase the $400,000 compensation he had been receiving annually. Ford experienced a problem with money when he left Eastern Kentucky for UMass in 2005; he ended up having to repay Eastern Kentucky $150,000, apparently because he had been paid up to 2007, according to news reports. Although it’s doubtful that Ford was offered the $750,000 that Sean Sutton was making per year at Oklahoma State, I suspect that it’s the money that caused him to leave UMass, despite having agreed to remain there. Holder said he wanted to hire a person of integrity, a person who won’t bring shame or controversy to the program. One has to question the kind of person that Travis Ford is, having gone back on his word so quickly when more money was dangled in front of him.

Ever since college when he first enrolled at Missouri as a freshman and then transferred to Kentucky for the remainder of his undergraduate years, Ford has been moving every few years. His coaching career began at Campbellsville University in 1997 before he left for Eastern Kentucky in 2000 and then left for UMass in 2005. It’s doubtful that he will remain at Oklahoma State for more than one or two seasons. He currently has a record of 123-116 in the Division I league (both Eastern Kentucky and UMass) and a 190-146 record overall. I foresee a mediocre season next year at Oklahoma State, with the Cowboys only reaching the NIT yet again.

Addendum: For those of you looking for the amount of money that Ford has been promised for heading the men's basketball program at Oklahoma State, that amount has not yet been released. During his news conference today, Ford says he told his UMass players that he is taking the job at Oklahoma State because he wants to win a national championship and can achieve that goal at OK-State. I'm sure his players felt great hearing that. Why can't he win a national championship at UMass? It's doubtful that the Big XII is any easier than the Atlantic conference, not with Kansas and Texas as part of this conference.