By Brandon Roberts/Sports Writer
Back-to-back appearances in the Ohio Valley Conference playoffs and a 14-15 (8-8) record last season were enough to earn Eastern head basketball coach Travis Ford a multi-year contract extension. “This is very exciting for me and my staff,” Ford said about the extension. “I think it shows the progress we’ve made.”
Eastern’s basketball program has shown dramatic improvement since Ford arrived on April 4, 2000. An 11-17 (5-11) record in 2002-2003 was the Colonel’s first double-digit win season since Scott Perry’s squad went 10-17 in the 1997-1998 season, and the 14 wins last season were the most for an Eastern squad in almost a decade.
“The program was in a worse situation than I anticipated when I walked in the door,” Ford said. “It was more like starting over than rebuilding.”
Ford, 33, is relatively young for a college coach, particularly one who has been doing it as long as he has.
“I could see myself being here for a long time,” Ford said. “It is a great environment and a great university to work for.”
Ford’s overall record at Eastern is 39-71 (17-47) and has steadily been improving every season. A recruiting class that ranks in the top 30 in the nation not only solidifies Eastern as a legitimate OVC contender but also shows the improvement of the basketball programs reputation since Ford’s arrival.
A standout player himself at both the high school and college levels and a head coaching position at Campbellsville College that earned him a reputation as a legitimate college coach, Ford seems to find success wherever he goes.
“We’ve been improving and I think it’s because I am really not a goal-setter,” Ford said. “I believe in working on what needs improved now and not worrying about five years down the road.”
Finishing his career at Eastern is definitely a possibility according to Ford.
“I love Richmond, and I love Eastern,” Ford said. “Former players come back to coach, and a lot of the coaches never leave, there is something about this place that makes you want to stay around.”
The length of employment by other coaches at Eastern is something that Ford cited as a great thing about Eastern.
“Coach Kidd was here for 39 years and could’ve probably left, but he just didn’t want to,” Ford said. “Coach Inman has been here a long time as well: there is a stigma about Eastern and the students.”
During Ford’s tenure at Eastern, the men’s basketball team has played a steadily more difficult schedule and have still seen their record improve.
Ford still had some time left on his previous contract.
The terms of the new deal were not disclosed and Athletic Director John Shafer could not be reached for comment at press time.
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