Ball State University has selected James Whitford, the associate head coach at University of Arizona, to lead its men's basketball program, according to Ball State director of intercollegiate athletics Bill Scholl.
Whitford will be introduced as the 19th head coach in program history Wednesday with a press conference in Muncie.
“We are thrilled to add James Whitford to the Ball State family as our new men’s basketball head coach,” Scholl said. “In a very talented pool of candidates, James separated himself from the pack based on the success he has experienced at multiple institutions and the vision he has for Ball State basketball.”
Whitford has served four years on the staff at Arizona, including the past two as the associate head coach. He has been with Arizona head coach Sean Miller for eight seasons, dating back to Miller's days guiding the Xavier program.
The 41-year-old Whitford also has more than a decade of experience with the Mid-American Conference, having served on the staff at Miami University under Charlie Coles for 11 seasons before joining Miller at Xavier.
“I want to thank President Gora and Bill Scholl for giving me this incredible opportunity at Ball State,” Whitford said. “In my mind, Ball State offers the best combination of academic excellence, basketball tradition, outstanding arena and fan support of any school in the Mid-American Conference. When you add the unparalleled recruiting base in the state of Indiana and the great teaching those high school players receive from their various coaches, this job became one I targeted over the last few weeks.”
Whitford helped Arizona to an average of 27 wins per season over his final three years in Tucson, including a 30-win campaign in 2010-11 that featured a Pac-10 Conference championship and an appearance in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats recently concluded the 2012-13 season with a mark of 27-8 (12-6 Pac-12) and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16.
Whitford served as recruiting coordinator at Arizona and helped the program consistently land nationally ranked signing classes. The Wildcats' 2012 class was rated as high as third in the country.
Whitford was in charge of developing Arizona's post players, one of whom, Derrick Williams, became the No. 2 overall selection in the 2011 NBA Draft. He also led the defensive coordination for a Wildcats team that allowed fewer than 64 points per game in each of the past two seasons. The 2012-13 Arizona team out-scored its opponents by nearly 10 points per game.
“James is a tireless worker and a relentless recruiter who has helped Miami, Xavier and Arizona all experience tremendous success within their respective conferences and the NCAA Tournament,” Scholl said. “He prides himself in developing young men on and off the basketball court and has an infectious positive energy that will be great for our program.
“James will feature an up-tempo offense with an aggressive defense that our players and fans will love at Worthen Arena. He is an excellent fit for our campus, and we cannot wait to introduce James and his family to Ball State and the Muncie community.”
Before heading West, Whitford helped the Xavier program to an impressive run during his four years in Cincinnati. The Musketeers posted an overall record of 103-35, won three Atlantic 10 Conference championships and played in the NCAA Tournament all four years. The 2007-08 Xavier team reached the Elite Eight.
Whitford joined the staff at Xavier after working his way up the ranks at Miami, starting as an administrative assistant for two seasons from 1994-96 and rising to the top assistant position under Coles from 1998-2005.
He was a part of three NCAA Tournament appearances at Miami, including the RedHawks' 1999 Sweet 16 run. Miami won four MAC regular season championships during his time in Oxford, Ohio, and posted an overall record of 201-130.
A native of Madison, Wis., Whitford earned his start in college basketball as a manager at Wisconsin and graduated from the school in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in political science. He earned a master’s degree in sports studies from Miami in 1996.
Whitford and his wife Amber, a former member of the women's basketball staff at Xavier, have two sons, Liam and Spencer.
“My wife and I look forward to getting our family on campus, meeting our team and introducing ourselves to our students and fans,” Whitford said. “I am incredibly honored and humbled to be the next men’s basketball coach at Ball State University and cannot wait to get started on returning us to the top of the MAC.”