Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 3/31/14
Mike Holder admits he made a mistake. Admits that giving Travis Ford a 10-year contract hasn’t worked out. Such largesse rarely does. “Ten years is a long time,” said Holder, OSU’s athletic director. In September 2009, OSU announced a contract extension for its basketball coach that in effect created a 10-year contract. Good through 2019. Escalating salary. All kinds of perks. No buyout for the university, and a stiff buyout ($3 million) for Ford, should he jump to another job. Almost five years later, that contract is an albatross, preventing OSU from a coaching change it likely otherwise would make. And while that contract probably has kept Ford employed, it’s also been a burden. “In retrospect, it wasn’t good for him or us,” Holder said. To whom much is given, much is expected. Give a coach a 10-year contract, and the minimum you’d expect would be an NCAA Tournament victory or five, an energized fan base, a Big 12 contender. Hasn’t happened. The Cowboys are 0-for-March Madness since Ford signed that contract. Marcus Smart’s arrival and success rallied the masses, and Gallagher-Iba Arena sizzled again much of last season, and when Smart, Markel Brown and Le’Bryan Nash announced they would return for the 2013-14 season, OSU hoops seemed destined to return to the glory of the Eddie Sutton years. But this season went splat, with injuries, discipline issues, Smart’s suspension and close losses souring the season. OSU rallied to make the NCAAs, but a first-round loss to Gonzaga sent the Cowboys home early in a year that was billed as Final Four or bust. Players are bewildered at what went wrong, fans are fed up, the entire vibe around Cowboy basketball is toxic and Ford has five years left on that contract. OSU is bound to Ford for $2.25 million in 2014-15 and $2.4 million each of the four seasons after that. That’s $11.85 million over five years.
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