James Whitford

James Whitford

  • Title
    Head Coach
  • Email
  • Alma Mater
    Wisconsin, 1994
  • Phone
  • Years at Ball State
    6th season in 2018-19

Highlights at Ball State
• Averaging more than 20 wins over the past three seasons
• First true road win over a top-10 team in program history (No. 8/9 Notre Dame; Dec. 5, 2017)
• MAC West Division co-championships in 2016 and 2017
• CIT appearances in 2016 and 2017
• Guided the nation's fourth-largest turnaround in 2015-16 (from 7-23 to 21-14)
• Has signed nine Indiana All-Stars (BSU signed only three in the decade before his arrival)

9663James Whitford completed his fifth season as the Ball State men’s basketball head coach in 2017-18, continuing to lead a resurgence in the Cardinals’ program.
Over the past three years, BSU has averaged more than 20 wins per season, won two division championships and knocked off a top-10 team for the first time in 16 years. The Cardinals and Buffalo are the only teams to win at least 10 Mid-American Conference games in each of the past three seasons.
Whitford’s teams in 2015-16 and 2016-17 surpassed 20 wins and earned shares of the MAC West Division championship. The program had not achieved the first of those feats in consecutive seasons since the early 1990s and had not accomplished the second in back-to-back years in the league’s divisional history (since 1998).
Ball State played in the postseason in each of those campaigns with trips to the CIT, including a quarterfinal appearance at the end of the 2015-16 season. That berth marked the Cardinals’ first trip to the postseason since 2002.
In 2017-18, Whitford led Ball State to a 19-13 (10-8 MAC) record and a second straight first-round bye in the MAC Tournament. The campaign was highlighted by an 80-77 win at Notre Dame when the Fighting Irish were ranked No. 8 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 9 by the Associated Press. The victory, which came during a nine-game winning streak, was the third in program history over a top-10 team, the first since the 2001 Maui Invitational and the first ever in a true road game. It was also the first by a MAC program over an AP top-10 team since the 2001 Maui event.
Ball State went 14-2 at Worthen Arena in 2017-18, finishing one shy of the school record for home court wins. BSU snapped long losing streaks against perennial MAC heavyweights Akron, Kent State and Ohio, defeating all three in the same season for the first time since 1998. The Cardinals ranked second among all MAC teams in scoring defense (73.1) and field goal percentage defense (.415) during league play.
Whitford’s 2016-17 squad went 21-13 (11-7 MAC), tying for the seventh-most wins in program history for the second year in a row. BSU ranked among the top 15 percent of teams in the country in scoring offense at 78.7 points per game. It was the program’s highest per-game scoring output in the past 40 years. The Cardinals reached the semifinals of the MAC Tournament for the first time since 2011 before falling to No. 1 seed Akron by just four points.
The 2015-16 team went 21-14 (10-8 MAC) on the strength of the league’s No. 1 scoring defense (66.8). The Cardinals shared the MAC West title after being picked last in the preseason poll. Coming on the heels of a seven-win campaign in 2014-15, Ball State’s turnaround ranked as the fourth-largest of any team in the nation. The CIT berth marked the program’s first postseason appearance in 14 years.
Whitford came incredibly close to winning MAC Coach of the Year honors for the 2015-16 season, finishing second to Akron’s Keith Dambrot. He tied Dambrot with 14 first-place votes but ended up one point behind the Akron coach in total points (111- 110).
Whitford has ushered in an era of 3-point shooting in Muncie. Four of the top five outputs from beyond the arc in program history have come during his tenure, including a school-record 319 triples in 2016-17.
The Cardinals have also been one of the MAC’s most unselfish teams under his guidance, leading the league in assists during conference play in 2015-16 (14.7) and ranking second in 2016-17 (15.1).
Whitford laid the foundation for the future at Ball State during his first two years, installing his system and ramping up the Cardinals’ recruiting efforts. His first two Ball State teams were heavy on youth, with the 2014-15 squad ranking among the 25 youngest in the country. Both teams featured the MAC Freshman of the Year, including Sean Sellers in 2014-15.
Whitford has now recruited nine Indiana All-Stars to Ball State -- Sellers, Jeremie Tyler, Tahjai Teague, Tayler Persons, Kyle Mallers, Zach Gunn, K.J. Walton, Brachen Hazen and, most recently, Jarron Coleman. The first eight of those were on the Cardinals’ roster in 2017-18, matching the most on any one college team since Purdue had eight in 1998-99. Ball State had never had more than four Indiana All-Stars on a single roster before Whitford’s tenure. In the decade prior to his arrival in Muncie, the Cardinals signed a total of three.
Sellers, who was part of Whitford’s first full recruiting class, went on to set the program’s all-time record for career 3-pointers. Persons became the first player in program history to record at least 1,000 points and 300 assists in a two-year period.
Whitford has coached six All-MAC selections, most recently Persons and Trey Moses in 2017-18. He has coached half a dozen Cardinals who have gone on to play professionally overseas, including 2017 graduates Franko House (Holland) and Ryan Weber (France).
9594Whitford was introduced as the 19th men’s basketball coach in Ball State history on April 10, 2013. In his career as an assistant coach at Arizona, Xavier and Miami University, his teams posted an overall record of 400-208 and made 12 postseason appearances. Nine of those came in the NCAA Tournament, including five Sweet Sixteen appearances and two trips to the Elite Eight.
“We are thrilled to add James Whitford to the Ball State family as our new men’s basketball head coach,” former Ball State director of intercollegiate athletics Bill Scholl said upon Whitford's hiring. “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 served four years on the staff at Arizona, including his final two as the associate head coach. He was with Arizona head coach Sean Miller for eight seasons, dating back to Miller's days guiding the Xavier program.
Whitford also brought more than a decade of experience with the MAC, having served on the staff at Miami University under Herb Sendek and Charlie Coles for 11 seasons before joining Miller at Xavier.
“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,” Whitford said at his introductory press 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.”
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 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 his final two seasons. The 2012-13 Arizona team outscored 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.”
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, Wisconsin, 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 Amber Stocks, head coach of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, have two sons, Liam and Spencer.


Year School Overall Record Conf. Record Championships/Postseason
2013-14 Ball State 5-25 2-16 (MAC)
2014-15 Ball State 7-23 2-16 (MAC)
2015-16 Ball State 21-14 10-8 (MAC) MAC West Champions; CIT
2016-17 Ball State 21-13 11-7 (MAC) MAC West Champions; CIT
2017-18 Ball State 19-13 10-8 (MAC)
Totals 5 Years 73-88 35-55


Year School Position Overall Record Postseason
1994-95 Miami (OH) Administrative Assistant 23-7 NCAA (64)
1995-96 Miami (OH) Administrative Assistant 21-8 NIT
1996-97 Miami (OH) Assistant Coach 21-9 NCAA (64)
1997-98 Miami (OH) Assistant Coach 17-12
1998-99 Miami (OH) Assistant Coach 24-8 NCAA (16)
1999-00 Miami (OH) Assistant Coach 15-15
2000-01 Miami (OH) Assistant Coach 17-16
2001-02 Miami (OH) Assistant Coach 13-18
2002-03 Miami (OH) Assistant Coach 13-15
2003-04 Miami (OH) Assistant Coach 18-11
2004-05 Miami (OH) Assistant Coach 19-11 NIT
2005-06 Xavier Assistant Coach 21-11 NCAA (64)
2006-07 Xavier Assistant Coach 25-9 NCAA (32)
2007-08 Xavier Assistant Coach 30-7 NCAA (8)
2008-09 Xavier Assistant Coach 27-8 NCAA (16)
2009-10 Arizona Assistant Coach 16-15
2010-11 Arizona Assistant Coach 30-8 NCAA (8)
2011-12 Arizona Associate Head Coach 23-12 NIT
2012-13 Arizona Associate Head Coach 27-8 NCAA (16)
Totals 19 Years 400-208