ATHENS, Ohio - Former North Dakota State head coach Saul Phillips, Ohio University men’s basketball coach for the last five seasons, will not have his contract renewed, Ohio Athletic Director Jim Schaus announced Wednesday morning.
Phillips went 81-77 in his five years at the helm, including consecutive 20-win seasons in 2015-16 and 2016-17. The two seasons since then have been lackluster, however, with the team finishing a total of 14-17 for both seasons. The Bobcats went just 40-50 in the Mid-American Conference under Phillips.
"We are making a change in the leadership of our men's basketball program," Schaus said in a news release. "I do not believe that our men's basketball program, that has a rich tradition of excellence, is where we need to be in terms of consistent, on-court success."
The OU administration will start “a national search” for the new coach immediately, the release said.
"Rest assured that we are committed to excellence in our men's basketball program and will take the necessary steps to ensure future success," said Schaus. "I am confident that we will attract very strong interest in the position and will be able to hire an outstanding head coach and staff very soon. I want to thank our loyal fan base for their support of our men's basketball program. I am excited and optimistic about our future."
According to a report in the Athens News, something that could lure a coach to Athens is the salary that Ohio might be willing to offer, judging from what Phillips earned. The men’s head coach had a base salary of $581,108, which was the highest base salary of any employee at the university, ahead of both head football coach Frank Solich, second, and President Duane Nellis, third. After bonuses and benefits, Phillips netted as much as $633,874, according to a Cleveland Plain Dealer article.
At North Dakota State, Phillips compiled a 134-83 record in his seven years as head coach from 2007 to 2014. Phillips had five winning seasons at NDSU, reaching the NCAA Tournament twice - once in 2009 and again in 2014.