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:
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.
"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."
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.
Photo: US PRESSWIRE