The coaching carousel has now fully engulfed Fargo, first football, then women’s basketball and now men’s basketball. Jason Arkley from the Athens Messenger first reported late Saturday night that Ohio University was set to hire Saul Phillips as its new men’s basketball coach.
BREAKING: Ohio University will announce Saul Phillips as its next men's basketball coach. Expect official announcement soon
— Jason Arkley (@JasonAmessenger) April 6, 2014
Phillips heads to Athens, Ohio and inherits a team that won 25 games this past season and head coach Jim Christian left earlier this week for the Boston College job. The Ohio job has been a clear level jumping job for the the last two coaches, John Groce took Ohio to the Sweet 16, then left for Illinois, and now Christian heads to the ACC with Boston College. Christian had a base salary of 425 thousand, he was the highest paid coach in the MAC,
now Phillips likely won’t be paid that much, but we can expect a serious pay increase when we get the official announcement, likely on Sunday.
UPDATE: ESPN reports that Phillips has signed a five year contract at Ohio that will pay him 550 thousand dollars a year, Phillips told me that the deal came together late Saturday night.
Here’s an official statement from Phillips on the Ohio website: “I am extremely excited about the future of Ohio basketball and I am elated to have a chance to add to its rich tradition,” Phillips said. “This is an outstanding university in a terrific community. I share the vision of the administration as to what the enormous potential is of this storied program. I simply cannot wait to start working with our players and helping them reach their potential. I want our fans and my players to know that I will pour maximum energy and enthusiasm into Bobcat basketball.”
Athletic Director Jim Schaus: “The hiring of Saul Phillips as the next head men’s basketball coach for Ohio is indeed a tremendous hire for us,” Schaus said. “I am just ecstatic to be able to welcome a coach with his experience and success to Bobcat Nation. Saul is passionate, energetic, a great communicator and is inspiring. He has a reputation as an excellent recruiter and players coach. His North Dakota State team had many big wins including a win over Oklahoma in the NCAA Tournament. I am confident about Saul helping us build Bobcat Basketball to new heights of excellence. I can’t for him wait to get started!”
SUNDAY UPDATE: Spoke with Gene Taylor from Arlington this morning, told me he was hopeful when some jobs were filled that perhaps Phillips would be safe, but knew when the Ohio job opened and they were going to visit with him, “it be hard not to hire him.” Taylor added that by university law they have to open the job up, but also will visit with associate head coach Dave Richman, says on him: “Dave’s been part of two staffs here, he’s a had a big impact, certainly talk with Dave, very impressive young man, he’s had a lot to do with coaching success.”
As for NDSU, Phillips leaves with a 134-84 career record, two NCAA Tournament trips, a NCAA Tourney win and three consecutive postseason trips. The question now becomes on who will take over the NDSU program? This is a good job, far better than when Phillips took over in 2007. I have to think associate head coach Dave Richman will get a long and serious look from Gene Taylor, he’s been Saul’s right hand man and from what I’ve been told, wants the job badly. We’ll see on that front, more coming tomorrow, but now both basketball jobs are open at NDSU.