During his search for Billy Taylor’s replacement, athletic director Bill Scholl said finding a candidate who could put Ball State back in contention for Mid-American Conference titles and postseason appearances was a primary focus. 

When the university named James Whitford its head coach on Saturday, Scholl placed extra emphasis on those goals by way of incentives in the former Arizona assistant’s contract. 

Whitford’s five-year deal pays him $275,000 annually, but NCAA Tournament wins ($20,000), MAC Tournament Championships ($10,000) and MAC Coach of the Year awards ($5,000) are just some of the bonus opportunities he can earn.

Scholl said Whitford’s base salary puts him right around the midpoint among other coaches in the conference, but his contract is worth $60,000 more than what Taylor made when Ball State bought out the final year of his deal.

“Based on where we felt James was from a qualification standpoint, he hit all our criteria right on the money with the exception of not being a head coach [previously],” Scholl said. “We thought that was the appropriate amount to pay him based on the qualifications he was bringing to us.”

Some of those qualifications include a proven recruiter and previous coaching experience within the MAC, but other aspects stood out even more to Scholl.

He said Whitford’s attention to detail, charisma and level of organization showed he has all the traits of a great leader.

“He definitely has a sense of confidence about him that causes others to buy in to his vision,” Scholl said. “I think that will be a significant factor in leading our current student athletes, but also in terms of recruiting new student athletes to want to come play for him.”