Less than 24 hours after Ohio State women’s basketball’s streak of 10 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances ended, so too did the tenure of OSU coach Jim Foster.
The OSU athletic department announced Tuesday that Foster would not return as the Buckeyes coach next season. A Tuesday morning meeting with OSU athletic director Gene Smith and executive associate athletic director Miechelle Willis resulted in a split between OSU and Foster, a four-time Big Ten Coach of the Year Award winner.
During a Tuesday afternoon press conference at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Willis said the contractual language related to the end of Foster’s employment, and therefore possible financial implications for both sides, was still being “ironed out.” Willis did not specifically say Foster was fired.
“Gene (Smith) and I met with coach Foster this morning and it was decided that (Foster) would no longer return for our women’s basketball program,” Willis said during the press conference. “All I can say is that he’ll no longer be our coach.”
In a Tuesday press release, Smith said Foster “meant so much to so many” while at OSU.
“His work in mentoring young people on and off the court has been exceptional,” Smith said in the statement. “The Ohio State women’s basketball program was made better under Jim’s leadership over the last 11 years. He and (wife) Donna have been wonderful representatives of our university and we wish them the best.”
Foster did not respond to The Lantern’s Tuesday request for comment.
During his time as coach at the Schottenstein Center, the Cheltenham, Pa., native amassed a 279-82 record and a .772 winning percentage. The NCAA Tournament was not kind to Foster, however – he posted a 10-10 record in NCAA Tournament play and his Buckeyes teams were eliminated in one of the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament during seven of 10 postseason runs.
The lack of sustained postseason success factored into the decision, Willis said.
“We strive to be nationally competitive. We believe that we have everything in place here to be nationally competitive. We believe that means that we should be playing deep into (the) postseason,” Willis said. “We expect to be in the Final Four on occasion, and definitely the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight are expectations that we have.”
OSU advanced as far as the Sweet 16-round three times (2004-05, 2008-09 and 2010-11), but no further.
In response to The Lantern’s request for Foster’s resignation letter, OSU athletics spokesman Adam Widman said “it doesn’t exist,” and how the university will characterize Foster’s departure remains uncertain.
OSU also did not immediately respond to The Lantern’s request regarding the financial implications of the split between OSU and Foster.
If Foster was fired or resigned he would “not be entitled to receive any further compensation or benefits,” however, termination by OSU without cause would result in a $350,000 payment to Foster, according to his contract, which was set to expire June 30, 2018.
Foster was paid $477,000 between July 1, 2011 and June 30, plus $285,000 in additional compensation, according to his contract, which The Lantern obtained on Tuesday. Foster’s contract states that he was to make $502,000 in base salary, plus $300,000 in addition compensation for the current fiscal year.