Mike Holder Talks Travis Ford, Basketball

The day following Boone Pickens tweet that he was in Travis Ford's camp and athletic director Mike Holder's rare statement on a coach's job status that he said was prompted by unfounded rumors, Holder met Wednesday with seven members of the media, mostly two at a time, to discuss Ford and the basketball situation. Here is part of Robert Allen's interview with Holder.

What went into releasing the statement on Tuesday that Travis Ford was still the head coach for basketball here at Oklahoma State?
Holder: Well, the announcement was just a reaction to all the rumors, message board chatter, and nationwide discussion about our basketball coach, and I felt like I needed to get out there and calm the waters and that is why I made the statement. That is not my normal way of doing business and I don't plan on doing any more of it in the future unless we have a similar outbreak of rumors. As the day went along and it didn't die down and it was feeding off itself and it was going to continue to be a hot topic until somebody had something to say about it.

Your standard operating procedure is to wait until the season is over and then sit down with that coach and review the season and take stock in what needs to go on for the future. Can you tell me anything about that process this time with Travis Ford?
Holder: Well you know I'm not going to get into any details with that because it is private and it is no different than I would do with any coach. You sit down and look at the positives and then you look at the negative and then you ask the question, what are we going to do to get it better next year. Sometimes it is a short discussion and sometimes it is a long drawn out one depending on how the season went. I would categorize this as nothing out of the ordinary. We had nice, normal, frank talks and discussions and that is the way it should be.

You are savvy to social networking and I'm going to guess, based on the discussions I had with some boosters, that you had a lot of feedback in that mode on the basketball season and on Coach Ford.
Holder: Absolutely, and I read every single one of them. I appreciate them taking the time to write me and expressing their thoughts, good, bad, or indifferent. We are blessed with some of the best fans in college athletics and they are very passionate about Oklahoma State athletics and they love it. They have strong opinions about all of our sports and in this case it is basketball. They want us to be accountable and I want to tell them that I understand the responsibility that goes along with this and we are accountable and we are working hard every day and every decision we make each day we like to think is in the best interest of OSU and this program in the future. It doesn't mean that you are always going to get it perfect or right but our motives are good.

I'm not going to go into history and the contract and why the contract was offered. All you can do is learn from history. However, this decision will cause a split in the OSU family as some supporters wanted a change, passionately wanted a change. What do you do to try and bring them back in and not be frustrated and on the outside?
Holder: Upset fans is not a bad thing. I look at that as a positive because that means they care. The more deeply they care then the better, and the more people we have like that is better. The football and basketball season ticket holders may think when they occupy their seat then they are just supporting football or basketball. They are supporting all of our sports, baseball, wrestling, soccer, golf, and our DNA is really based on minor sports. We have 52 national championships and only two of them come from the major sports.

We need to value every supporter that we've got, whether it is a season ticket holder, a casual fan that just watches it on television, every single one of those fans plays a critical role. I want to think that we do a good job of valuing our people. Could we do a better job? Absolutely! We think about it every day, and not just those fans that are away from our campus but those on it, our students, and we've got to do a better job of engaging our students to athletics, particularly football and basketball. We sold 11,000 all-sports tickets to student on our campus this last year. We averaged under 7,000 attending football games and we were under a thousand on average for basketball games. Shame on us. We've got to do a better job of getting them engaged in athletics.

Can Travis Ford improve and improve this program? Obviously, in your evaluation then you feel he can, right?
Holder: He loves his players and I think his players know that and they love him. People need to understand how passionate Travis is about this place. He wants to be our basketball coach and he wants to win just as bad as I do and just as bad as any fan out there. The quandary is to figure out what is missing because he has so many of the qualities that I value and there is some component there that is not quite right. Hopefully, we can start again this year and come up with a better result.

You spoke to the team yesterday. What did you say?
Holder: I was looking for Travis and he was having a team meeting and I ran into the team meeting. I wanted to tell them that what you read out there was not good and those kinds of things that were said created some doubt around our program but I consider those a good thing because it will bring everybody closer together. It will reaffirm everybody toward working in the program to make it better and will open up more dialogue between coaches and players and I think we will all be better for it.

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