Staying put is the harder but better decision

Matt Peters

Staying put is never an easy decision in the face of the intriguing unknown.

The lure of greener pastures always seems enticing, but is it?

Kent State men’s basketball coach Jim Christian’s decision to stay put and accept an extension through the 2011-12 season is a good one.

The university offers a situation that even the lure of many of major programs could not rival.

As interesting as the unknown may be, it doesn’t always work out for the best. Former Kent State basketball coaches Stan Heath and Gary Waters might be able to testify to this. They could seemingly do no wrong at Kent State. The coaches built an average basketball program into a dominant force in the Mid-American Conference.

NCAA Tournament appearances forever etched their names in Kent State history and made them hot property on the coaching market. The coaches each eventually relocated to higher profile jobs at Arkansas and Rutgers, respectively, with limited success.

Former men’s basketball Assistant Coach Geno Ford made the right call in stepping down to the Div. III level to coach. Ford was thought to be a possible future coach at Kent State or another Div. I program. Muskingum will let him to do what he wants on his terms and spend time with his family. You can’t buy that kind of situation.

Just ask women’s basketball associate head coach Lori Bodnar about staying put. Bodnar has remained at Kent State for 17 seasons. Despite head coaching offers, she’s remained with the Flashes on the grounds that the grass isn’t always greener.

In my estimation, Kent State is great place for coaches. Here, coaches have the opportunity to build the programs the way they want without the hassle and politics that go along with the top programs. Kent State is the perfect place for coaches to grow.

Of course, the situation works both ways. Without the pressure to succeed quickly, coaches have the ability to literally build a program. What makes many of the smaller programs attractive is stability. While many coaches continue to try to climb the coaching ladder, leaping from one program to the next, they are ultimately serving themselves. With stable programs, players can trust their coach isn’t just trying to make use of their talents and then head for the money a season later.

Kent State’s recent success would make it an ideal stepping stone for a coach. After three 20-win seasons and three NIT appearances in Christian’s tenure, he hasn’t leapt yet.

Contact sports editor Matt Peters at [email protected].