Kent State awarded $1.2 million against former basketball coach

Former men’s basketball coach Geno Ford left Kent State in Marcg 2011.

Jessica White

Kent State won $1.2 million in damages Friday after it was ruled former head men’s basketball coach Geno Ford breached his contract when he left to take the head coaching position at Bradley University in Illinois in March 2011.

According to the decision, Ford had no permission to end his contract, which would have expired in 2015. In his three seasons at Kent State, Ford’s teams went 68-37.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the university announced Portage County Common Pleas Judge John Enlow’s 14-page ruling Tuesday.

“When coaches and high-profile employees leave public universities in breach of their contracts, the state of Ohio has an obligation to seek the compensation to which it is entitled,” DeWine said in a statement. “I am pleased that the Court has awarded the damages due to Kent State.”

Kent State is still pursuing claims against Bradley for alleged interference with Ford’s contract. Kent State filed suit against Ford and Bradley in April 2011, and the case against Bradley is set for trial on Oct. 7.

Bradley issued a statement Tuesday saying its actions and Ford’s actions “have been entirely ethical, legal and transparent. The lawsuit is ongoing and will continue to be addressed through the court system.”

Because the litigation with Bradley remains active, Kent State had no comment on the court’s decision regarding Ford.

Messages seeking comment were left for Ford and his attorney, Fritz Byers.

Kent State hired Ford in April 2008 for a five-year term at $200,000 per year. In April 2010, the university and Ford agreed to extend his employment through the 2014-2015 season and increase his annual salary to $300,000 — making Ford the highest-paid basketball coach in the Mid-American Conference.

In March 2011, Ford accepted the position at Bradley after he led Kent State to its second consecutive MAC regular-season title.

Ford now must pay Kent State the damages as calculated in the liquidated damages provision of his employment contract. The provision states that if Ford terminated his employment with Kent State, the university would be entitled to the balance of Ford’s annual salary due for the remaining time of his contract term.

Contact Jessica White at [email protected]