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Stony Brook promotes Geno Ford to head coach

Stony Brook coach Geno Ford puts the players

Stony Brook coach Geno Ford puts the players through their drills during practice in Breslin Student Events Center at Michigan State on Nov. 18, 2017. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Stony Brook has promoted assistant coach Geno Ford to become its next men’s basketball coach, the school announced on Tuesday morning.

Ford, an assistant at Stony Brook under former head coach Jeff Boals for the past three seasons, previously was a head coach at Division I programs Kent State and Bradley.

"My focus during this search was to find the best coach to build on the success that our program has enjoyed and more importantly, the right fit for this team," Stony Brook athletic director Shawn Heilbron said in a statement. "In doing so, it became clear that Geno would become the next head coach of our men's basketball program."

Ford, 44, takes over for Boals, who left Stony Brook last week to become the head coach at his alma mater, Ohio University. Ford coached Stony Brook last week when it lost in overtime at South Florida in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational.

"I am very honored and humbled for the opportunity to be the head coach at Stony Brook University," Ford said in a statement. "I want to thank President [Samuel] Stanley and our Athletic Director Shawn Heilbron for allowing me the chance to continue with a great group of high-character players. I also want to thank Jeff Boals for bringing me to Long Island three years ago and allowing me to be part of his vision to build a high quality basketball program."

Ford’s experience as a Division I coach combined with the players’ and administrators’ comfort level with him made him a leading candidate once Boals left. If he didn’t get the Stony Brook job, Ford was expected to join Boals at Ohio, where they were college teammates.

Ford takes over a Stony Brook team that finished second in the America East Conference and is in position to return nearly its entire roster. Up first on Ford’s to-do list will be to convince leading scorer Akwasi Yeboah to stick around for his final year of eligibility.

Stony Brook confirmed Friday that Yeboah, a first-team all-America East player, placed his name in the transfer portal, giving him the option to leave. He is on track to graduate, meaning that as a graduate student transfer, he would not have to sit out a season before playing.

"Geno has enjoyed success as a head coach and he understands what it takes to win," Heilbron added. "His outstanding relationship with the team makes this a seamless transition and positions us to make a run at an America East title next season."

By selecting Ford, Stony Brook went with familiarity and stability, a different route than when it hired an unproven assistant in Boals to replace Steve Pikiell in 2016.

Ford’s coaching resume is filled mostly with head-coaching positions. That includes a three-year stint at Kent State in which he went 68-37 and made two NIT appearances.

He left in 2011 for Bradley, a decision that didn’t pan out on or off the court.  Ford went 46-86 in four years and also was sued by Kent State to recoup the reported $1.2 million buyout in his contract, a somewhat unusual move by a college in an industry in which head-coaching changes are common.

After Bradley, Ford spent a year at ESPN before an offer from Boals led him to relocate to Long Island. His son Darin is the varsity basketball coach at Harborfields High School.

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