TRAVIS FORD NAMED UMASS BASKETBALL COACH
AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts Director of Athletics John McCutcheon announced the hiring of Travis Ford as the new head men's basketball coach on March 25, 2005. Ford is a rising star in the coaching profession and comes to UMass after leading Eastern Kentucky to the NCAA Tournament to culminate his five-year stint with the Colonels. Ford has agreed to a five-year contract with a base salary of $200,000 per year with additional incentives and bonus options.
"We are extremely pleased that Travis Ford and his wife Heather have become part of the UMass family," McCutcheon said of UMass' 20th men's basketball coach. "He brings exactly the kind of experience, energy and charisma that we were hoping to find in a head coach. Travis distinguished himself from an outstanding group of candidates and we could not be more excited about the impact his appointment will have on the future of UMass Basketball."
Ford has emerged as one of the brightest, energetic and personable coaches in the nation. A decorated player at the University of Kentucky, Ford earned numerous accolades as the Wildcats' point guard from 1991-94. As a head coach, he led NAIA school Campbellsville University to a 67-31 record from 1997-2000 leading the Tigers to a National Tournament appearance in his final season.
"I am extremely excited to join the University of Massachusetts, a school with rich basketball tradition," said Ford. "I am looking forward to working hard every day to bring the excitement and energy back to one of New England's finest institutions. I know our fans seek the enthusiasm and passion that I can bring to Western Massachusetts and pack the Mullins Center again."
At Eastern Kentucky, Ford guided the Colonels to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in more than 25 years as well as their first winning season (22-9 in 2004-05) in 11 years. Ford was riding a seven-game winning steak -- Eastern Kentucky's longest such streak in 40 years -- prior to losing to his alma mater, Kentucky, in the 2005 NCAA First Round, 72-64. He led the Colonels to the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championship, their first since 1979.
Ford, led EKU out of doldrums as they were a combined 9-44 in the previous two seasons before his arrival. His first two teams won seven games, but his victory total rose each year to 11, then 14 and finally a school-record 22 this past season. In five seasons in Richmond, he led the Colonels to a 61-80 record. Overall, Ford's record as a head coach is 128-111 (.536).
He put the EKU program back on the map in 2003-04, as the Colonels posted a 14-15 record, giving the team its highest win total since tallying 15 victories during the 1992-93 campaign. The Colonels also made their second straight appearance in the OVC Tournament. Eastern would defeat Samford in the opening round of the league tourney in McBrayer Arena to post the team's first win in the event since 1995. Ford set several personal milestones with the 2003-04 resurgence. His eight OVC wins were the most for the program since 1997-98 Ford also became the first Colonel head coach to lead his team to back-to-back OVC Tourney appearances since Mike Calhoun accomplished the feat during the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons.
Ford has also had a long run of producing successful players. He has had at least one player named to the all-league teams in each of his five seasons, including two at the conclusion of the 2003-04 season and Michael Haney this past season. Ford also guided Matt Witt to the OVC Freshman of the Year award in 2002-03.
Ford used his team's success to his advantage during the recruiting process, landing a class that has been ranked No. 28 nationally by HoopScoop Magazine. His class was the second-highest rated in the OVC heading into 2004-05.
Ford's success at EKU, came as no surprise to anyone familiar with basketball in the Bluegrass State. He began his bench duties at Campbellsville University, where he served as head coach for three seasons. During his tenure at Campbellsville, Ford led the Tigers to a 67-31 overall record. During the 1999-2000 season - his last at Campbellsville - Ford guided his team to a 23-11 record and an appearance in the NAIA National Tournament.
Ford's Tigers tallied a 28-3 mark in 1998-99 including an impressive 10-2 record in Mid-South Conference play, earning him MSC Coach of the Year honors. While on the bench at Campbellsville, Ford produced seven First Team All-MSC players and 10 that were voted honorable mention all-conference. Three of his players were named honorable mention All-Americans and one was selected second team.
The playing career of Travis Ford was impressive as well. He began his collegiate career at Missouri, where he was named to the UPI Big Eight All-Freshman team. During that season, Ford averaged 6.4 points and 3.5 assists per game. Ford would transfer to Kentucky prior to his sophomore year and made a big impact on the Wildcat program after sitting out a season due to transfer rules. He helped the Wildcats to NCAA Tournament appearances in each season in Lexington.
Ford went on to earn First Team All-SEC honors once, while also earning SEC Tournament MVP twice. Aside from him athletic accomplishments, Ford was also named to the Academic All-SEC team in each of his three seasons at UK. During his sophomore season (1991-92), Ford's outstanding shooting ability was on display. He connected on 32 field goals during the season and 26 of them fell in from behind the three-point arc. That season he also won the team's Student-Athlete of the Year award.
In 1992-93, Ford averaged 13.6 points and 4.8 assists as a junior and became the first player in Kentucky history to make more than 100 three-pointers in a season, which still stands as a school record (101). He led his team to the NCAA Tournament Final Four during that campaign and was named Southeast Region MVP. As a senior (1993-94), he scored his 1,000th career points (1,143 career points) as he averaged 11.3 points and 5.8 assists per game. He was honored as co-team MVP in 1994 along with current NBA player Tony Delk.
He stands sixth all-time at Kentucky in three-pointers made (190) and second all-time in three-point field goal percentage (.445). In the all-time free throw charts, he is second all-time in free throw percentage (.882). His .912 percentage as a senior also still stands as a second-best mark in a single-season in Wildcat history.
The Madisonville, Ky., native was a part of the gold medal-winning South squad at the 1990 US Olympic Festival in 1990 and later played for the US team that won a gold medal in the 1993 World University Games. Ford's playing career in high school was also stellar. Playing at North Hopkins High School, he led his team to three state tournament appearances during his career and was named to the All-State team. He averaged 31.7 points per game as a senior and was twice named Western Kentucky Player of the Year.
Ford's playing days ended in training camp with the Golden State Warriors of the NBA, but his time in California led to a new job. He landed the role of Danny O'Grady in the movie The 6th Man.
Ford and wife Heather, a former swimmer at Kentucky, have three children: Brooks (5), Kyleigh (3), and Shane (1).