On Tuesday, University of Massachusetts men's basketball coach Travis Ford said in a statement he was not a candidate for the opening at LSU and he was looking forward to coaching the Minutemen in 2008-09.Providence Journal:
more stories like thisYesterday, Ford and his wife, Heather, met with Providence College athletic director Bob Driscoll in Providence and toured the campus and the Dunkin' Donuts Center, where the Friars play home games.
Tonight, Ford presumably will be at the UMass team dinner, celebrating a 25-11 season and an NIT runner-up finish. Whether he'll also be saying goodbye remains the question. According to sources at Providence and UMass, Ford is the main contender for the PC job and could have an offer he will consider over the next 24 hours.
UMass AD John McCutcheon declined to comment when asked about the status of his coach, who last year signed a contract extension through 2015. "I never comment on speculation," said McCutcheon.
Driscoll was unavailable for comment, but he talked to Ford at the Final Four in San Antonio last weekend and set up the campus tour and a meeting with PC officials yesterday.
Ford, 38, is PC’s latest choice to fill its vacant men’s basketball coaching position. He fits several of the parameters the Friars are looking for in a coach. He’s a winner, a creative recruiter and possesses lots of drive.Jeff Goodman reports that there is already an offer on the table.
Perhaps most importantly, he’s a Rick Pitino disciple who lived his dream of playing for the former Friar coach at the University of Kentucky and followed Pitino’s advice to take the reins at his alma mater in Amherst three years ago.
Pitino helped get Ford involved in the Providence search after the Friars’ initial choice, George Mason’s Jim Larranaga, turned down an offer April 2. As of late last night, PC and Ford had not reached a deal on a contract. The job is certainly his to turn down and the Friar community would clearly welcome this resolution to the four-week search to replace Tim Welsh.[...]
Here are some of the issues Ford must be weighing. First, of course, is money. Last April he signed an extension at UMass through 2015 on a deal that offers a base salary of a reported $400,000. He would clearly be able to double his money at Providence and would likely sign a deal for five or six years. It is not known what the buyout figure in his UMass contract may be.
Besides wealth, the issue coaches worry about most is the ability to recruit and win games. He’s clearly proven he can do big things at UMass, although winning 25 and 24 games the last two seasons as an Atlantic 10 member and not gaining access to the NCAA’s must be frustrating.[...]
Ford is a basketball-lifer who has stars in his eyes. He averaged more than 30 points a game as a high school senior but when he wasn’t recruited by Kentucky coach Eddie Sutton, Ford signed with Missouri. He made the Big Eight all-freshman team but quickly transferred when Pitino was hired to replace Sutton.
At UK, Ford helped Pitino revitalize the great Wildcat program by starting on the 1993 Final Four team and sharing MVP honors as a senior with future NBA guard Tony Delk.