Missouri State University men’s basketball introduced Dana Ford as the program’s 18th head coach. The 33-year-old served the last four years as head coach at Tennessee State University. He is widely regarded as one of the nation’s most promising young head coaches and was awarded the Ben Jobe Award in 2016 as the nation’s top Division I minority coach.
“Within the first 15 minutes of talking with Coach Ford, I was excited about him,” said Missouri State President Clif Smart. “I could tell he was extremely excited about Missouri State. He and his wife have great personal stories. I don’t think we could have found a better fit.”
Ford had orchestrated one of the best turnarounds in NCAA history when he accepted the TSU job in 2014-15 as the nation’s youngest Division I head coach at the time. The Tigers went from a 5-26 record his first season to a 20-11 a year later.
Over his last three years, Ford has led the Tigers to a combined 52-39 record.
Coach Ford said he was hired to win championships.
“When you consider what Coach Ford has done, his resume is impressive,” said Kyle Moats, MSU’s director of athletics. “But when you consider that he was the third-youngest head coach in Division I this season – with four years of head coaching already under his belt – then you can understand why all of us are so excited here today.”
Ford says the culture of Missouri State needs to start changing
A native of Tamms, Ill., Ford is a 2006 graduate of Illinois State University where he was a four-year letterman for the Redbirds under coaches Tom Richardson and Porter Moser from 2002-06. He was a regular starter and led ISU in steals as a senior. He went on to successful assistant coaching stints at Winthrop and Wichita State under coach Gregg Marshall and later at Illinois State under coach Dan Muller. His coaching resume also includes assistant coaching stops at Chipola (Fla.) College and Tennessee State. Ford has been an assistant coach on two NCAA Tournament teams at Winthrop (2006-07) and Wichita State (2011-12) as well as a NJCAA national final four run at Chipola College (2008-09).
“I’m looking forward to getting started,” said Ford. “I have always had a great admiration for this university and the great basketball program here. It is an honor to return to the Missouri Valley Conference and be the one selected to carry on a great Bears basketball tradition.”
Ford’s contract, which was also approved by the Board of Governors, is a five-year agreement through March 31, 2023. He will earn a base salary of $375,000 his first two years and $425,000 in years three, four and five. Additional achievement incentives for NCAA and NIT appearances, conference championships, coaching honors and APR standards are also included in the agreement.
He and his wife, Christina, have two sons, Carson and Cameron, and a daughter, Charlie Rose.
Ford replaces Paul Lusk who was let go after seven seasons as head coach of the Bears from 2011-2018.