Foster seeks coaching spot after Ohio State firing
For the first time in years, Jim Foster had to update his
When he looked it over after being fired for the first time in
his life, he didn’t feel as if it came out too badly.
”As I looked at it, there was nothing that made me cringe,” he
It’s quite a document. It includes 783 victories, a .718 winning
percentage, a spotless reputation and his induction this June into
the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
He was jettisoned at Ohio State – the university said it was a
mutual decision – last month despite a 279-82 record in his 11
seasons, 10 trips to the NCAA tournament, four Big Ten coach of the
year awards and a record six consecutive conference titles
Foster did not feel sorry for himself after the abrupt firing.
Instead, he joked about the nice things others said about him to
make him feel better.
”Between the Hall of Fame and being fired in the same year, you
challenge your friends’ ability to transfer their feelings into
print,” the 64-year-old Foster said of the letters, texts and
other messages he’s gotten from peers, players and assistants.
”Some of them have been challenged to the point where we sort of
made a decision to cancel the funeral – there’s nothing left to
Spending time with his wife, Donna, at their vacation condo in
Arizona, he still isn’t ready to get out of coaching.
”It’s certainly on the front burner as we speak,” he said,
declining to mention details. ”I still have as much passion and
energy as I ever have.”
Ohio State fired him after an 18-13 season – his first with
fewer than 20 wins and without an NCAA tournament invitation at the
school. Miechelle Willis, the associate athletic director who
oversees the women’s program, pointed to the quick knockout
Foster’s teams frequently suffered in the NCAA tournament.
”There has been some discussion with the postseason production,
or lack thereof,” she said when the decision was announced on
Foster’s teams set an Ohio State record by reaching the NCAA
tournament 10 years in a row before this past season. Despite being
nationally ranked for most of a decade and in the top 10 for five
of those years, the Buckeyes never advanced beyond the round of
Despite losing his top two players to graduation from this
year’s team (Tayler Hill, drafted No. 4 by the WNBA’s Washington
Mystics on Monday, along with defensive whiz Amber Stokes), Foster
had high hopes for next season.
”I was really looking forward to coaching this team next year
because I thought we’d really found a key with Raven (Ferguson) and
a four-guards lineup,” he said. ”And we had a junior-college kid
who had verbaled to us and we’d had a European player that really
wanted to come. So we were really enthusiastic about this year. And
that enthusiasm hasn’t waned.”
Instead of moving into a new home that he and his wife are
building in Columbus, Foster will put it on the market and move
If it crossed his mind to simply retire and enjoy the fruits of
his 35-year head-coaching career, the words of former players and
assistants such as Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma swayed him to go
with his heart.
”The thing that keeps occurring is former players in a lot of
different ways and with a lot of different words wanting me to
continue doing what I do,” he said. ”That weighs heavily in the
In spite of all the victories, when asked to pinpoint a
highlight of his time at Ohio State, Foster brought up something
that had little to do with what took place on the court.
”We had a couple of special admits. We sort of got an
opportunity to get some people in who might not necessarily have
gotten into school,” he said. ”The day that they graduated sort
of justified the trust that the admission folks had in us and
helped you to realize … the first one to graduate in a family is
a big deal, the first one in the family to go to college is a big
He did not discount the big victories, however, on his list of
”And, certainly, cutting down nets,” he said. ”Championship
teams, they have a bond.”
Rusty Miller can be reached at