(RAVENNA, Ohio)—A Portage County judge has awarded Kent State University $1.2 million after its former head men’s basketball coach breached his contract by leaving to become the head coach at Bradley University, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the university announced today.
“Ohio’s public colleges and universities have a duty to students and taxpayers to be wise stewards of tuition and taxpayer moneys,” Attorney General DeWine said. “When coaches and high-profile employees leave public universities in breach of their contracts, the state of Ohio has an obligation to seek the compensation to which it is entitled. I am pleased that the Court has awarded the damages due to Kent State.”
On July 12, Portage County Common Pleas Judge John A. Enlow granted Attorney General DeWine’s and Kent State’s request for judgment against former men’s basketball coach Gene A. Ford for breach of his employment contract and damages in the amount of $1.2 million to Kent State. Pursuant to the court order, Ford will pay Kent State the $1.2 million in damages as calculated in the liquidated damages provision in his employment contract with Kent State. The liquidated damages provision stated that if Ford resigned or terminated his employment with Kent State, the university would be entitled to liquidated damages totaling the balance of Ford’s annual salary due for the remaining amount of his contract term.
In April 2008, Kent State hired Ford as their head men’s basketball coach for a five (5) year term at an annual salary of $200,000. In April 2010, Kent State and Ford agreed to a new contract extending his employment through the end of the 2014-2015 season and increasing Ford’s annual salary to $300,000, making Ford the highest-paid basketball coach in the Mid-American Conference. In March 2011, Ford agreed to become the head basketball coach for Bradley University, located in Peoria, Illinois, in breach of the terms of his employment contract with Kent State.
Kent State filed suit against Ford and Bradley University on April 26, 2011. Kent State continues to pursue claims against Bradley University for its tortious interference with Kent State’s contractual relationship with Coach Ford. The case against Bradley University is set for trial on October 7, 2013.
The Akron law firm Roderick Linton Belfance, LLP was appointed by the Ohio Attorney General as special counsel to represent Kent State in the cases against Coach Ford and Bradley University.
Dan Tierney: 614-466-3840
Lisa Hackley: 614-466-3840