Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the most recent reporting.
Jim Schaus wanted to hire a winner for Ohio’s next coach. The athletic director didn’t wait long to get what he wanted.
On Sunday, less than a week after Schaus started searching for the 19th coach in program history, Jeff Boals was named the Bobcats’ next head coach.
Boals replaces Saul Phillips, who was let go Wednesday after Ohio’s second straight exit in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
"I am ecstatic about our hiring of Jeff Boals to lead our men's basketball program," Schaus said in a release from the athletic department. "He is the perfect fit for us and checks all the boxes. Of course, Jeff is a Bobcat and former player so he understands what it is like to play and succeed here. Jeff is a proven head coach with a wealth of successful coaching experience during his career.”
The 46-year-old Boals is an 1995 graduate of Ohio University. He was a two-year captain for the Bobcats and helped them win both the 1994 MAC regular season title and tournament championship, which sent the team to the NCAA Tournament. He helped Ohio win the preseason National Invitation Tournament in 1995 but didn’t finish his senior year due to a torn ACL.
Boals has been the head coach at Stony Brook for three seasons and owns a 55-41 record. This season, he led the Seawolves to a 24-8 campaign. However, the regular season runners-up in the America East lost to Binghamton 78-72 on March 9.
Boals is under contract at Stony Brook through 2021. He just completed year three of his initial five-year deal, and his buyout is $50,000.
Prior to his first head coaching gig on Long Island, Boals was an assistant at Ohio State under Thad Matta from 2009 to 2016. He helped the Buckeyes reach six NCAA Tournaments and advance to the 2012 Final Four.
With the Buckeyes, Boals was the chief architect of their defense and worked directly with their big men. He helped develop future NBA stars Jared Sullinger and D’Angelo Russell. He coached the 2010 National Player of the Year, Evan Turner, and the all-time steals leader at Ohio State, Aaron Craft.
During his time in Columbus, Ohio State never allowed more than 68 points per game.
"I am incredibly grateful and honored to return home to my alma mater as the head men's basketball coach at Ohio University," Boals said. "My family and I are thrilled to see my coaching career come full circle with this opportunity. Sincere thanks to (OU President) Dr. (Duane) Nellis and to Jim Schaus for their confidence in me to lead the young men of Ohio both on and off the court."
Before his seven-year stint in Columbus, Boals was Akron’s lead recruiting coordinator for three seasons. He helped the Zips advance to three MAC Championship Games. He also spent two seasons at Robert Morris (2004-06) and four (1999-2003) at Marshall.
On Boals’ staff at Stony Brook is Geno Ford, a former Bobcat and former head coach at Kent State and Bradley. The 25-year college basketball coaching veteran led the Golden Flashes to a 68-37 record over three seasons and was twice named MAC Coach of the Year. He ranks second in Ohio history with 1,752 points. It’s possible that Ford will follow Boals to Ohio.
Boals replaces Phillips, who went 81-77 overall and 40-50 in the MAC over five seasons.
The Bobcats’ roster is set to return the MAC Freshman of the Year, Ben Vander Plas, and 10 scholarship players. Just three players — Gavin Block, James Gollon and Doug Taylor — are set to leave the program due to graduation.
Boals’ contract information hasn’t been announced yet. Phillips’ base salary was $550,000 and a five-year deal.