A Closer Look at Kevin McGuff

Written April 19th, 2013 by Charles

OSUWBK_4-18_EQ_01As Ken reported on Tuesday, after four weeks of searching, Ohio State announced the hiring of Kevin McGuff as the new women’s basketball head coach.  While McGuff doesn’t have the level of name recognition as some of the other candidates for the job, he is a far better hire than many people realize and is the type of coach that I wanted when the job search began.  McGuff is a relatively young be coaching standards, he is 43, and is an up-and-comer who has a very solid resume that has shown that he can build programs.

Like many of Ohio State’s recent high profile head coaches, Kevin McGuff has ties back to the Buckeye state.  McGuff was born in Hamilton, Ohio and after leaving the state to attend Saint Joseph’s College in Indiana, returned to begin his coaching career as an assistant coach at Miami of Ohio.  The next step in McGuff’s coaching career saw him travel back to the state of Indiana where he served as an assistant coach at Notre Dame under Muffet McGraw where he was part of the program that won the 2001 national title.  Unable to stay away from the state of Ohio, McGuff got his first head coaching gig at Xavier in 2002.

At Xavier, McGuff compiled a 213-73 and led the Musketeers to 4 Atlantic Ten tournament Championships, 3 WNIT appearances, and 6 NCAA tournament appearances.  While McGuff’s Xavier teams didn’t have great success in the postseason, they did make the Elite Eight in the 2009-2010 season and came within a minute of upsetting Stanford to make the Final Four.  A big part of McGuff’s success was his recruiting and despite the small profile of Xavier in women’s basketball, McGuff had good success on the recruiting trail, signing several players who could have easily played at major conference schools, most notably Ta’Shia Phillips and Amber Harris who were the only two players from non-BCS schools invited to attend the 2011 WNBA draft in person.

McGuff’s success at Xavier drew notice from major schools and in 2011 he was hired to rebuild the program at the University of Washington.  Even diehard Husky fans would admit that the Washington program was in shambles when McGuff arrived and he wasted no time in getting the program on the right track.  A season after the Huskies went 11-17, McGuff led them to a 20-14 record and an appearance in the WNIT Quarterfinals in his first season at the helm.  This past season McGuff led Washington to a 21-12 record, a fifth place finish in the Pac 12, and another WNIT berth.  Despite being new to the west coast, McGuff showed that he can still recruit, landing two McDonald’s All-Americans in his two seasons with the Huskies.

While McGuff’s name may not have been the press conference winner that Ohio State was hoping for when they started the search process, he certainly said the right things when he was introduced as OSU’s new coach.  While some people, especially Husky fans, may criticize McGuff leaving Washington just two weeks after signing a contract extension, he clearly explained why he made his decision “I know this sounds cliché, but for somebody that grew up in Ohio and coaches women’s basketball, this is always the job that I’ve looked at and was saying, ‘If there’s one job that I could ever have, it’s that one. If there’s one job where I thought I’d be an amazing fit and do a fantastic job, it was Ohio State.’  McGuff went on to say that he didn’t pursue the OSU job, in part because Washington had always treated him well, the job offer was too good of one to pass on.  McGuff also showed some nice fire when he commented on why other coaches may have passed on the Ohio State job, “For some coaches, it maybe scares some people off…. But I’ve always wanted the opportunity to be at a place where you’re expected to be the best, but also given the resources and the opportunity to be the best. I think we can do that. I want to embrace the high expectations that we have here. I think that’s the only way to have true success.”  While this shot will likely not endear McGuff to the handful of big name coaches who turned down the Buckeye job, it shows the attitude that most Buckeye fans want an OSU coach to have, an attitude that shows that they recognize and embrace the expectations that are placed on them and that they are determined to meet those expectations.


Preliminary details of McGuff’s contract have been revealed  and while a final contract still needs to be worked out, it is doubtful that the major details will change very much.  McGuff will be paid a salary of $850,000 per year with $500,000 of that coming as base compensation, $100,000 coming from media, promotions, and public relations, and $250,000 coming from the apparel/shoe/equipment category, a pretty standard breakdown of compensation.  This is a similar base salary to what Jim Foster was making at OSU and is almost double what McGuff was making at Washington.

In addition to his base salary, McGuff, like all coaches, stands to make a nice amount of additional money in the form of bonuses based on team performance, both on and off the court.  On-court performance bonuses will be awarded for things like winning the Big Ten and making various rounds of the NCAA tournament while off-court bonuses are based on team GPA.  Perhaps the most interesting thing about the bonuses is the balance been GPA and on-court performance bonuses.  McGuff would receive a $50,000 bonus for an annual cumulative GPA of 3.0, $100,000 for a 3.3 GPA, and $150,000 for a 3.5 GPA.  To put those numbers in perspective, if the team were to get a 3.5 GPA, McGuff would have to lead them to a Big Ten regular season and tournament title and the Final Four, along with being named NCAA Coach of the Year, in order for his on-court bonus to match the GPA bonus.  I am a big fan of the balance in these bonuses and like to see the university placing such an emphasis on academics.  One of the biggest strengths of former coach Jim Foster was his stressing the importance of academics, this was reflected in the stellar graduation record of his players, and it is reassuring to see that academics will continue to be stressed in the future.

There were some other interesting perks in the contract, mostly regarding tickets for various OSU sports.  McGuff will receive 30 season tickets to women’s basketball games and 15 tickets to any pre and post-season tournaments that OSU plays in.  He will also receive 12 tickets and 2 parking passes to each OSU home football game and 6 season men’s basketball tickets.  All those tickets will likely come in handy in the future as McGuff is married and has six kids.  Assistant coaches are not forgotten in this and each assistant will get 8 women’s basketball season tickets, 4 pre and post-season tournament tickets, and 4 football and men’s basketball tickets.

Some Ohio State fans have expressed their displeasure at McGuff’s salary being so high with many of them criticizing paying anyone that amount to coach a sport that loses money.  While I personally think that coaching salaries for all NCAA sports are too high, at least for the major sports, in the current salary world I am pretty happy with this salary.  As anyone who has ever run a business knows, if you want to attract top talent you have to pay your people accordingly.  Sure, OSU could have saved money and gone with a cheaper coach but there is normally a reason that you got that coach so cheap and it will show up in on the court.  Yes, women’s basketball loses money pretty much everywhere but there is no reason that has to be the case.   OSU women’s basketball gets a good amount of exposure from ESPN and the Big Ten network which can certainly help grow the popularity of the program.  If McGuff lives up to expectations and can lead the Buckeyes to the level of regularly competing in Final Fours then tv exposure will increase, NCAA tournament payouts to the school will increase, and ticket sales will increase; Buckeye fans are always enthusiastic and love to show their support for winning teams.  Maybe this increase in attendance and other revenue won’t be enough to make women’s basketball profitable but it won’t be hard for it to reach the level where it would offset the extra salary McGuff is getting paid compared to hiring a bargain basement coach who couldn’t take the team to that level.

Looking Ahead

Ohio State has no recruits for this coming season, making signing a good 2014 class even more important than normal.  Fortunately the state of Ohio is loaded with talent for the 2014 class, highlighted by having 4 of the top 50 players in the country.  Those top four are Kelsey Mitchell (#4 nationally), a 5-9 guard from Princeton, Alyssa Rice (#11 nationally), a 6-4 post from Reynoldsburg, and Makayla Waterman (30th) and Kathryn Westbeld (31st), a pair of 6-2 forwards from Fairmont.  According to reports, McGuff has wasted no time in going after these four and has already contacted their coaches and will be attending an AAU tournament in Virginia where all four will be playing.

In addition to hitting the recruiting trail, McGuff will have to assemble his staff.  As of now there has been no word on whether he may be bringing any of his staff from Washington with him or if he will keep any of Foster’s former staff.  Personally, I would like to see him keep Debbie Black as an assistant coach as she has done some good work with the guards over the years.  I do not know much about the Washington staff but many Husky fans are hoping that current assistant coach Mike Neighbors will get promoted to the head coaching position which suggests that OSU fans should probably hope that McGuff brings him with him.

Overall I’m very happy with the hiring of Kevin McGuff as the new Ohio State women’s basketball coach.  McGuff is from Ohio and his experience coaching at Xavier means that he knows high school coaches in the state and the region.  I remember many of McGuff’s Xavier teams and how good they were while he was there and I am excited to see what he can build with the additional name recognition and resources that OSU has to offer.  McGuff is also fairly young, only 43, and thus if he is successful there is a good chance that he will be around for a while and can really build OSU into a top program.


  1. KenNo Gravatar
    April 19th, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Charles, thanks for the write-up on McGuff hiring. The more layers you peeled back, the better I like this. A lot.

    Regarding his contract; I don’t have any issue with his compensation, often enough you have to loosen the purse strings. I do like the ‘academic performance’ clause in his contract.


  2. SamNo Gravatar
    April 19th, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Sellout…said he wanted to play with the nation’s best teams? Didn’t do to well for himself against Stanford and Cal. Good riddance.


  3. DebbieNo Gravatar
    April 20th, 2013 at 10:00 am

    A question about compensation: McGuff prior to going to OSU signed an extension with the University of Washington. See this report: http://dailyuw.com/archive/2013/04/16/womens-basketball/kevin-mcguff-hired-ohio-state#.UXKerrVvP54

    The University of Washington is owed $1.75 million for McGuff to buyout his contract, is OSU going to pick that up?


    KenNo Gravatar
    April 21st, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    No. That is McGuff’s responsibility.


  4. BoboNo Gravatar
    April 21st, 2013 at 2:39 am

    McGuff wanted to return to Ohio so I’m still puzzled as to why so much money was given to him. He would have probably taken much, much less money for his dream job at OSU. It seems it was a one-sided salary negotiation . . . OSU kept upping its money until McGuff said “enough, the amount of money that you’re giving me is obscene.”


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