McGuff leaves Washington to replace Foster as head coach at Ohio State
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Kevin McGuff made his first official appearance as the new women's basketball coach at Ohio State on Wednesday.
''For somebody who grew up in Ohio and coaches women's basketball, this is always the job I've looked at as saying if there was one job I could ever have it would be that one,'' McGuff said. ''And if there's one job where I thought I'd be an amazing fit and could do a fantastic job, it was Ohio State.''
After spending nine years as the head coach at Xavier and the past two at Washington, McGuff said it was good to be back home. He takes over for Hall of Fame coach Jim Foster, who was fired after an 18-13 season - his first during his 11-year tenure without 20 wins or a trip to the NCAA tournament.
Since he signed a contract extension just three weeks ago at Washington, where he was 41-26 the last two years with two trips to the WNIT, McGuff is on the hook for a $1.75 million buyout.
''That's his responsibility,'' said Miechelle Willis, the associate AD who oversees Ohio State's women's program.
Foster, who has a record of 783-307 in 35 years as a head coach at Saint Joseph's, Vanderbilt and Ohio State, was fired on March 19. One of the reasons stated by Willis was ''postseason production, or lack thereof.''
The Buckeyes were nationally ranked with high seedings most years heading into the NCAA tournament, yet were eliminated in the first round three times and the second four times, with three other trips to the round of 16 before falling.
McGuff's Xavier teams only made it past the second round of the NCAA tournament once, a trip to the regional championship game in 2010. The Musketeers lost in the first round four times, the second round once and participated in the WNIT three other years.
While an assistant at Miami (Ohio), McGuff became friends with current Ohio State men's coach Thad Matta. Both were head coaches at Xavier at the same time.
McGuff said he had spoken to Matta, who was hesitant to intrude on the search for a replacement for Foster. But after the hunt faltered, Matta spoke to athletic director Gene Smith.
''As much as anything, just to make sure that Gene knew that I would be very interested if they had an interest [in me],'' McGuff said.
McGuff said he would speak to players soon and evaluate recruiting and offseason workouts. He thanks Foster for leaving a solid foundation.
''This is going to be a players' program,'' McGuff said. ''It's about our players and their experience.''
Willis called the Buckeyes one of the top-five programs in the country. McGuff said his goal was to make Ohio State a national power.
Ohio State graduated its two top players last year, including Tayler Hill, taken No. 4 in this week's NBA draft by the Washington Mystics.
''I was hoping that maybe she didn't show up [for the draft] and somehow got a sixth year,'' McGuff said. ''I know we graduated two really good players [including Amber Stokes]. That's going to hurt. But right now it's about what can we do with the current team. I've heard nothing but great things about our players and I'm looking forward to getting to know them a little bit more what they can do on the court and figure out a way to have success.''