Jim Foster Out as OSU Women's Basketball Coach

By Kyle Rowland on March 19, 2013 at 3:22p
Jim Foster is out at Ohio State after 11 seasons on the job

Ohio State women’s basketball coach Jim Foster will not return, director of athletics Gene Smith announced today.

Foster coached at Ohio State for 11 seasons, compiling a 279-82 record. He is the winningest coach in the program’s history and led the Buckeyes to a record six straight Big Ten championships from 2005-10, four Big Ten Tournament titles and a school-record 10 consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

He was named Big Ten coach of the year four times and just completed his 35th year as a college head coach. Foster has 783 career wins at St. Joseph’s, Vanderbilt and Ohio State. He is one of only two coaches – men’s or women’s – to win at least 200 games at three different schools.

Ohio State finished 18-13 overall and 7-9 in the Big Ten this season, missing out on the NCAA Tournament for the first time in Foster’s 11-year tenure.

“Jim Foster has meant so much to so many over his career,” Smith said. “His work in mentoring young people on and off the court has been exceptional. The Ohio State women’s basketball program was made better under Jim’s leadership over the last 11 years. He and (wife) Donna have been wonderful representatives of our university and we wish them the best.”

“I have known Jim for more than 25 years,” Miechelle Willis, Ohio State Executive Associate Athletics Director and SWA, said. “We go way back to his days at St. Joseph’s and mine at Temple. I have always had all the respect in the world for Jim’s basketball mind and commitment to the development of young women in his programs. His contributions to women’s basketball have been recognized nationally throughout his career. I am really appreciative of the 11 years that Jim has devoted to The Ohio State University.”

A national search for Foster’s replacement will begin immediately.



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NC_Buckeye's picture

This doesn't sound like Foster is retiring from coaching. Is he going to another school? Did something happen? Sounds like there is more to this than what's being reported. Especially since he turned down the WNIT invite.
Can't believe Smith would fire him for one mediocre season.

painterlad's picture

How about firing him for seriously underachieving in the NCAA tournament? I think this move is about four years too late.

To err is human. Really sucking requires having yellow stripes on your helmet.

BME_Buckeye's picture

What expectations do you really have of this team. Final fours, cutting down the nets and winning multiple national titles? Look at the field of Women hoops to see who is out there and then compare those teams to Ohio State. I can tell you they are a lot better than any team Foster had at OSU. Yeah we could have went to a few more sweet 16's but didn't. That isn't a reason to fire him because of problems during the NCAA! 

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.


Buckeye Chuck's picture

The number of times we've been upset in the NCAAs is pretty startling, considering that upsets in the women's tournament are much more rare than in the men's.
In 2006, the Buckeyes lost in the second round as a #1 seed. The other three top seeds that year won their second round games by an average of 25 points; in fact, they all made the Final Four.
In 2007, we were the highest seeded team (#4) to lose a first round game.
In 2008, we were again the highest seeded team (#6) to lose a first round game. 
In 2010, after a good showing the year before, we were back to our old tricks, a second seed getting beaten senseless by 7th seeded Mississippi State in the second round.
Foster sent 10 teams to the NCAAs, which is certainly good; but 7 of those teams were knocked out of the tournament by a lower seed, which is really incredible. I would bet there's not another school that has been an upset victim in even half its women's tournament appearances.
As for today's news: this is a classic "time for a change" move. The Buckeyes this year were a 7-9 team despite having the top scorer in the conference, and she's leaving. There's little question that at least 2 seasons of real rebuilding are ahead, and limiting it to just 2 seasons assumes the kind of recruiting that IS possible in the state of Ohio (Ohio always produces more than its share of girls' basketball talent), but that Foster didn't seem to have the energy or inclination to engage in.

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

painterlad's picture

^^^This. Plus after each "shocking" loss, the opposing teams all said the same thing about the OSU team...weak. It was common knowledge with the opposition that, while highly skilled, the Lady Buckeyes were soft and when pushed wouldn't push back.

To err is human. Really sucking requires having yellow stripes on your helmet.

CanadianBuckeye's picture

Seems like this article has everything except a reason why he is leaving.  Did I miss something?
I don't follow women's basketball at all, but those numbers are damn impressive!

tennbuckeye19's picture

From what I can gather based on what people are saying on twitter, this sounds like a classic case of the need for a fresh start and new face for the program. 

builderofcoalitions's picture

Yeah, the program is on a downward trajectory. It's time for a new approach.

Because we couldn't go for three.

BME_Buckeye's picture

If I'm not mistaken he also has a 18-4 record vs. Michigan was well. Don't forget that number. I will miss Foster and the women teams he had. Hopefully we get a new coach just as good. I'm really gonna miss him! 

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.


GoBucksToledo's picture

Wonder if the decision not to go to the WNIT has anything to do with it, one way or another.

Vico's picture

Jim Foster and Gene Smith are very close, from what I gathered. With five years left on his contract, or thereabouts, there would not be a lot of leverage to fire Jim Foster for one bad season. Again, from what I've gathered, Jim Foster had been thinking that this would be his last season even before the season started. He's been the head coach for 11 years at Ohio State, 35 years of coaching overall, and is going to be 65 years old in October. This might be more of a negotiated retirement, especially as Foster is involved in other administrative basketball activities.

We should celebrate Jim Foster's 11 years at Ohio State. His six year stretch of B1G TEN championships was among the best basketball the league has ever seen. I'm inclined to believe, though, that the time is right to move forward. There's no parity in women's basketball, at all. It's relatively easy to dominate if a program wants to commit resources to dominating that sport. It's non-revenue, but high visibility. Quite frankly, it needs to be dominated and Ohio State needs to lead the way on it. Foster wasn't getting us there. Hopefully the new coach will, and then some.

In this sport, Ohio State should no longer strive to win the league. The B1G TEN's reputation in women's basketball is as bad as its reputation in men's basketball is good. Ohio State should strive for hegemony. It's not as difficult as it is in men's basketball. We can do it, and we should. I care that much about this sport for us to not be excellent in it.

Then again, we should say that about every sport in which we participate. If we field a sport in it, I want a national championship in it. This is The Ohio State University; there are no valid excuses for falling short of fortune and glory. I just happen to feel more strongly about that sentiment in women's basketball than in most other sports (including men's basketball).

I can't believe I ate the whole thing.

AndyVance's picture

Then again, we should say that about every sport in which we participate. If we field a sport in it, I want a national championship in it. 

This is exactly the right attitude to have, and it holds up for us in many other non-revenue sports, fortunately. It's also why it grinds my grits when people dismiss seemingly unreachable expectations for the men's basketball team with the "we're awesome for a football school" canard. Ohio State is the greatest university in the known universe, and our athletic teams should have the resources and leadership to play at that level across the board.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Ohio State has consistently finished near the top in the Directors' Cup standings.
On the one hand, some might say that it's to be expected that a school like Ohio State, with its massive resources, should excel at the highest levels in a wide variety of sports.
On the other hand, Ohio State is a relatively inexpensive public school with a rising academic reputation. A degree from Ohio State has great value. Yet, when private schools like Stanford, Duke, and USC as well as prestigious public universities like UCLA, UVA, and CAL offer full-ride scholarships to women's lacrosse players, etc., that can be pretty enticing to kids who might be at the top of their sports and yet are very rarely ever going to be professional athletes after they graduate.

jthiel09's picture

This gave a little more clarity on the situation, thanks Vico.


Run_Fido_Run's picture

It's relatively easy to dominate if a program wants to commit resources to dominating that sport.

Roughly speaking, what is the general size of the additional resource commitment it would take to dominate the sport? Would those additional funds be reallocated from other sports programs, new funds (increasing the overall sports programs budget), or some combination thereof?
Your comments are the most passionate statement I've ever read in reference to Ohio State women's basketball. Then again, I haven't read much on the subject. Are many others as passionate about the sport as you are?

Buckeye Chuck's picture

Re the Big Ten's rep in women's basketball: both Maryland and Rutgers have serious traditions in the sport. They're going to increase our conference prestige in a big way.

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

AndyVance's picture

Okay, so who are the logical candidates for his replacement? Are there any Thad Mattas in the women's game out there for hire?

GoBucksToledo's picture

Tricia Cullop at the University of Toledo should be considered.  She has taken that program to the top of the MAC and beyond.  A great motivator and game tactician, she would be great for the role and, with the resources available to her at tOSU, would thrive.

rampageripster's picture

name is escaping me, but the head coach at UD has been mentioned several times

Cause I couldn't go for three

JigNSwig15's picture

I do not follow women's basketball very closely, but Kevin McGuff comes to mind as a potential replacement. He's an alumni of Badin High School in Hamilton, which is just north of Cincinnati. He was an assistant at Notre Dame (I think an assistant on a national championship team). He then went on and did big things at Xavier and was a missed lay-up away from a Final Four before moving on to Washington, where he is currently head coach.

Gametime's picture

In all seriousness we need to go after the top assistant on Geno's UConn Huskie's staff or whomever is the Stanford Cardinals staff's top assistant or maybe even Notre Dame. I'm sure top lady's hoops assistants would love the chance to be a head coach. Then between the UConn & ND candidates they would know how to recruit Ohio well along with the Big East & ACC footprints adding Maryland & Rutgers would give us AND invaluable experience competing at the highest level against the best women's hoops has to offer.

Between goals and achievement is discipline and consistency. That fire you have inside to do whatever you love is placed there by God. Now go claim it. ~ Denzel Washington

buckeyestu's picture

A big thanks to coach foster for a lot of quality basketball. wish him luck.

BuckeyeLurker0509's picture

This was such a stupid move.
I hope he goes somewhere (outside of the B1G) and has immense amounts of success.
Best of luck Coach, and thanks for everything.

703Buckeye's picture

It's not stupid at all. Sure, Coach Foster built a quality program, but his teams never did well in March. It was time to move on.

"Attack the Strong, Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead!"
-Former OSU S&C Coach Lichter