Blog Entry

Kent State suing former coach for $1.2 million

Posted on: May 12, 2011 2:00 pm

Posted by Matt Norlander

Geno Ford abruptly left Kent State to coach at Bradley a few weeks ago, and now his former employer wants its money back.

Though we're just discovering it now, turns out Kent State filed a lawsuit April 26 against Ford (above) in an attempt to get back the $1.2 million in "damages" it feels it's deserved. The figure comes from the buyout that was supposedly in Ford's Kent State contract -- $300,000 for every year remaining on it. Ford re-signed with the school through 2015 at the end of the 2009-10 season.

The lawsuit is being brought on by university president Lester Lefton and athletic director Joel Nielsen. Guessing that bridge has been thoroughly torched. No one involved in the lawsuit on the Kent State side is yet speaking publicly, since it's a legal matter, and such matters tend to zip mouths shut until due process has been had.

But, per the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, here are the statements Ford and his new athletic director, Michael Cross, gave Wednesday:

"During the process, everything was handled professionally and appropriately," Ford said. "It is unfortunate this has turned into a legal matter. I look forward to a quick resolution."

Cross said: "Bradley University is respectful of employer-employee relationships, including those involving current and former employees, and has acted accordingly. As testament to that, Bradley and Coach Ford handled the hiring process in a straightforward and professional manner with the clear consent of Kent State University.

"It is unfortunate that Kent State filed a completely unnecessary lawsuit against Coach Ford and Bradley. Since it has done so, Bradley will make no further public statements at this time."

Surprisingly, Ford took the Braves job after going 25-12 at Kent State this season, moving to a school that went 12-20, with a 4-12 Missouri Valley mark. Bradley has not been a perennial power in the MVC, while Kent State has had its share of success atop the MAC here and there in the past decade. The swap could be seen as lateral at best, perhaps even a step down, until you consider the money involved. Ford got a hefty raise in taking the Bradley job.

It's a messy process, and one that's not new to the collegiate landscape. As the Plain-Dealer's story states, Marist went through this a few years back -- and won. Sometimes coaches move on to new jobs and athletic directors feel betrayed by such a move. Buyouts in contracts have become as key a component as any other when coaches sign new deals. But Ford isn't going back to Kent State, so the school wants to get as much money as it can, perhaps in an effort to keep some of its pride as well.

Kent State hired Rob Senderoff to replace Ford.

Category: NCAAB

Since: Jun 3, 2008
Posted on: May 16, 2011 11:57 am

Kent State suing former coach for $1.2 million

Just to expand, besides the money, there were other reasons that the Bradley job was attractive.  While Les was here, he was able to recruit some pretty decent talent.  For whatever reason, it never translated with the exception of the one year they made there run.  In the midwest, Bradley has a good reputation and a decent pool of talent to compete year in and year out in the MVC.  More importantly, Bradley just completed massive expansion on their campus that included updating from the original fieldhouse to a state of the art sports complex, which will only make recruiting better talent easier.  Combined with the fact that there is no football program at Bradley and basketball rules supreme, Ford probably saw an opportunity to go from a good situation to a better one, and likely has his eye on a bigger job in the future, knowing the resources he has at Bradley will help to recruit and hopefully make a name for himself.  As alumni, I hope he has a few years of success, though a school the size of Bradley is in the same position Kent State was in; As soon as he has a lot of success, "better" jobs will come calling.

Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: May 15, 2011 7:35 pm

Kent State suing former coach for $1.2 million

I'm glad the KSU administration is pursuing this.  Good there's some common sense left and they have to protect the schools funds and put it towards a better coach next year.  

Since: Apr 22, 2009
Posted on: May 14, 2011 9:41 pm

Kent State suing former coach for $1.2 million

Bradley help the man.  Sounds like a Rich Rod deal.  KENT STATE will get their money back!  really BRADLEY?

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: May 13, 2011 2:05 pm

Kent State suing former coach for $1.2 million

Going from Kent to Bradley would be akin to Nick Saban going from Alabama to Southern Montana State.
Look outside your state, dude. It's not a lateral move. It's a step up. Going from Kent State to Bradley was akin to Nick Saban going from Michigan State to LSU. Michigan State was a fine job, but LSU was better. The same applies to Kent State and Bradley.

Since: Jan 9, 2007
Posted on: May 13, 2011 1:07 pm

Kent State suing former coach for $1.2 million

What a POS sellout!  He re-signs until 2015, and this only 1 year ago. I mean if he's offered the Kentucky or Duke job, Ok, I understand. While the MVC might get slightly more bids than the MAC it is not such a glamor move that should inspire someone to renage on their commitment to Kent State so easily.

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: May 13, 2011 12:15 pm

Kent State suing former coach for $1.2 million

"Going from Kent to Bradley would be akin to Nick Saban going from Alabama to Southern Montana State."

That may be the worst comparison in the history of the English language.

Since: Jul 9, 2010
Posted on: May 13, 2011 10:42 am

Kent State suing former coach for $1.2 million

You're right, it's not a lateral move. It's a step waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back from Kent to Bradley. Apparently Ford is only interested in cashing out and not winning.

Going from Kent to Bradley would be akin to Nick Saban going from Alabama to Southern Montana State.

Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: May 13, 2011 1:17 am

Kent State suing former coach for $1.2 million

 Coaches earn big money even in one bid conferences.  If he left for the dough, he should pay up and shut up. 

Since: Jan 8, 2007
Posted on: May 12, 2011 8:59 pm

A lateral move?

While it may not be as a big leap compared to going to a school in a power conference, the Missouri Valley has received multiple bids to the NCAA tournament during most of the last 10 seasons.  Unfortunately, the MAC has turned into a one bid league.  You can debate the quality of play between the two leagues but the MVC has surpassed the MAC in terms of stature, exposure and attendance.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or