Naming Whitford smart decision by athletic director

The Daily News

Mat Mikesell's views and opinions don’t necessarily agree with those of the newspaper to the Daily.  

It took 23 days for Ball State to name James Whitford as its 19th men’s basketball coach in school history. 

That should tell the Ball State fan base that athletic director Bill Scholl is serious about making the team a contender in the Mid-American Conference again. Scholl could have made a quick decision and had a coach within a week. He could have chosen someone that has a big name, but not necessarily the credentials. 

But he didn’t. Scholl made the correct moves in taking his time, filtering out the candidates and picking the next coach with the objective to win a MAC Championship. 

Whitford has been on Arizona coach Sean Miller’s bench for the last eight seasons, dating back to Miller’s days at Xavier. Miller has won at Xavier and he just led Arizona to a Sweet 16 appearance in this year’s NCAA Tournament. 

When Miller has been making the right calls during his coaching tenure, his call for Whitford to take the Ball State job shows he believes Whitford can make Ball State a winner again. 

If Whitford does turn Ball State into a winner, there’s potential for a MAC powerhouse to be playing right in Worthen Arena. The MAC West Division has been consistently weak in the past several seasons when compared to the East. Sure, the power teams in Ohio, Akron and Kent State have been bullying the MAC. Those schools are in Ohio, a football state. Ball State is in Indiana — where basketball is king. 

With the hire, Ball State has the potential to build a mid-major program capable of competing at a high level. It won’t happen overnight by any means, but within a few years Ball State could be playing for MAC Championships. 

The hiring of Whitford is a smart decision by Scholl. He said from the beginning he wants to make basketball prominent again at Ball State. 

By hiring someone who has seen winning in different conferences like Whitford has, it’s hard to believe there won’t be some new banners hanging in Worthen Arena in the coming seasons. 


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