Head Coach Travis Ford
Travis Ford exceeded most expectations in his first year as the head coach of the Oklahoma State Cowboy Basketball program. In just his first season, he led the Pokes to a 23-12 record and a return to the NCAA Tournament. The surge included winning nine of the Cowboys' final 12 games. When Byron Eaton made two free throws and OSU led top-seeded Pittsburgh 72-71, the Cowboys were just four minutes away from their first Sweet 16 appearance since 2005.
His outgoing personality is infectious, and has made him a quick favorite of the Oklahoma State fans. He's considered one of the leading young coaches in the country, by both the national media and his peers in the coaching community.
Just as important, he's become a front-runner on the recruiting trail, as evidenced by his first recruiting class at Oklahoma State being ranked No. 4 nationally by HoopScoop.com last spring.
Ford is able to maximize each and every student-athlete's contribution to the team through his uncanny ability to encourage and motivate. A perfect example of this skill occurred when he prompted Eaton to lose more than 40 pounds between his first meeting with Ford in April -- when he weighed 248 pounds -- and when the season started in October, when he weighed in at 206.
Another instance was how Marshall Moses magically transformed from essentially a bench warmer during the first semester to one of the most dominating big men in the Big 12 during conference play. Moses was on the verge of quitting midway through the season as he was averaging just 2.1 points and 1.5 rebounds in under eight minutes per game. However, a sit-down chat with Ford did wonders, propelling Moses to his first-career double-double against Texas A&M. Over the last half of the season, the Cowboy started 15 games, averaging 26 minutes, 9.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per contest.
Ford began his head-coaching career in 1997 at the early age of 27 at Campbellsville University, an NAIA program in Kentucky. After a sub-.500 season in his inaugural year as a head coach, he led the Tigers to a 28-3 record and was named the Mid-South Coach of the Year in 1999. A year later, Campbellsville made its first NAIA National Tournament appearance in nine seasons as the Tigers finished 23-11.
Ford was hired at Eastern Kentucky prior to the 2000-01 season. Despite back-to-back seven-win seasons, he steadily built the Colonels into an Ohio Valley powerhouse, winning 22 games in 2004-05 and taking EKU to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 26 seasons. After winning the OVC title, the Colonels met seventh-ranked Kentucky in the first round of the 2005 NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis and fell 72-64 to the Wildcats despite cutting the lead to five twice in the final four minutes of the game.
Eastern Kentucky's 22 victories in 2004-05 are the most for a single season in school history. Matt Witt, the all-time leading scorer in EKU history, played his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons for Coach Ford.
Success led to Ford's next position as the head coach at Massachusetts. Following John Calipari's departure, the Minutemen went into a tailspin, going 136-137 over the next nine seasons and winning just 10 games in 2003-04. However, Ford led a resurgence once again, taking UMass from 13-15 in his first season to a 24-9 mark in year two and sharing the Atlantic 10 regular-season championship with a 13-3 league record. UMass picked up its first postseason victory in over a decade when the Minutemen defeated Alabama 89-87 in the first round of the NIT.
In 2007-08, Ford and the Minutemen won 25 games, including an 82-71 win over 14th-ranked Dayton on the road. The win over Dayton propelled the Minutemen into the top 20 of the ratings percentage index. UMass also had a 107-100 victory at Syracuse and an 83-80 win at Boston College. UMass peaked at No. 9 in the RPI during the season before settling in the No. 33 spot at season's end.
The 25-11 record was good enough for a No. 2 seed in the National Invitation Tournament. UMass defeated the Orange for a second time in the Carrier Dome -- the first team in history to defeat them twice in the same season -- rallying back from a 22-point deficit for an impressive 81-77 victory.
Massachusetts met two-time defending NCAA champion and No. 1 seed Florida in the NIT semifinals in Madison Square Garden in New York City and came away with an impressive 78-66 victory over the Gators. UMass fell in the finals to Ohio State, 92-85.
The Minutemen finished the season ranked eighth nationally in scoring offense, averaging 81.5 points per game. UMass ranked third nationally in blocks per game, averaging 7.3 per contest. They also averaged 9.2 three-pointers made per game, ranking 13th nationally.
Ford coached back-to-back Atlantic 10 Players of the Year as Stephane Lasme won the award in 2006-07 and Gary Forbes received the accolade in 2007-08.
He began his career in the collegiate ranks as a freshman at Missouri in 1989. He was named to the UPI Big Eight all-freshman team after averaging 6.4 points and 3.5 assists per game. He transferred to Kentucky prior to his sophomore season and led the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament his remaining three years.
Ford was named first-team All-SEC in 1993 and second-team all-league in 1994. He was also a two-time Most Valuable Player at the SEC Tournament in 1993 and `94. He was named the Southeast Region MVP as he led Kentucky to the Final Four in 1993 as a junior.
Ford owns the Wildcat record for assists in a game with 15 against -- ironically, Eastern Kentucky -- on Dec. 8, 1993. He also ranks second on the single-season assists list with 193 during his senior season. His 428 assists in a three-year career rank ninth all-time in the UK record books.
An outstanding shooter as well, Ford holds the Wildcat record for three-pointers made in a season with 101 during his junior year. That season, he shot 52.9 percent from beyond the arc, also a school record. His 44.5 career three-point percentage ranks as the best in school history among players with at least 200 attempts.
He ranks second in UK history in both single-season (91.2 percent) and career (88.2) free-throw percentage. At one time, Ford connected on 50 consecutive free throws, a school record.
A leader both on the court and off, Ford received Academic All-SEC honors as a sophomore, junior and senior. During his first year at Kentucky, he was named the team's Student-Athlete of the Year.
The Madisonville, Ky., native was part of the gold medal winning South squad at the 1990 U.S. Olympic Festival and later played for the U.S. team that won a gold medal at the 1993 World University Games.
Ford's prep playing career was also stellar. He led his team to three state tournament appearances during his career at North Hopkins High School and was named All-State. He averaged 31.7 points per game as a senior and was twice named Western Kentucky Player of the Year.
Ford's playing days ended in training camp with the Golden State Warriors, but his time in California landed him the role of Danny O'Grady in the movie, "The Sixth Man".
Born Dec. 29, 1969, Travis and his wife, Heather, have three children: Brooks, Kyleigh and Shane. Heather was a swimmer for the Kentucky Wildcats. Ford earned his bachelor's of science degree in communications from the University of Kentucky in 1994.
Travis Ford's Year-by-Year Record