A Portage County judge has ruled that Bradley University intentionally interfered with Kent State University’s contract with Gene Ford, its former men’s head basketball coach, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Kent State have announced.
“We have a duty to protect our public colleges and universities from third-parties that try to undermine or interfere with their contracts,” \DeWine said. “When a university disregards those contracts and knowingly poaches another school’s coach, that university must be held accountable.”
The court upheld Kent State’s motion for summary judgment against Bradley University and ruled that Bradley University intentionally interfered with the contractual relationship between Ford and Kent State and that it brought about the breach of contract without justification.
In April 2008, Kent State hired Ford as its head men’s basketball coach for a five-year term at an annual salary of $200,000. In April 2010, Kent State and Ford agreed to a new contract extending his employment through the end of the 2014-2015 season and increasing Ford’s annual salary to $300,000, making Ford the highest-paid basketball coach in the Mid-American Conference. In March 2011, Ford agreed to become the head basketball coach for Bradley University, located in Peoria, Ill., in breach of the terms of his employment contract with Kent State.
Kent State filed suit against Ford and Bradley University on April 26, 2011. In an earlier ruling, the court issued a $1.2 million judgment against Ford. A Portage County jury will determine the amount of damages Bradley University caused to Kent State.
The Akron law firm Roderick Linton Belfance, LLP was appointed by the Ohio Attorney General as special counsel to represent Kent State in the cases against Coach Ford and Bradley University.