Ford succeeds Travis Williams, who was fired last month after going 23-40 in two seasons. Tennessee State went 5-25 this past season.
Ford worked at Tennessee State from 2009-11 as an assistant under former head coach John Cooper. Williams became head coach in 2012 after Cooper left for Miami (Ohio).
Ford spent the 2011-12 season as an assistant at Wichita State and has been at Illinois State the past two seasons. Ford played at Illinois State from 2002-06.