Ohio hires NDSU coach Saul Phillips

Ohio has hired North Dakota State coach Saul Phillips to replace Jim Christian as head coach, the school announced late Saturday night.

Phillips told ESPN he agreed to a five-year contract and will receive a salary of $550,000 annually. His predecessor, Christian, was named Boston College's head coach late last week.

Phillips led the Bison to the NCAA tournament for the second time in his seven years as head coach, with NDSU beating Oklahoma in the round of 32 before losing to San Diego State in Spokane, Wash. A tearful Phillips talked after the loss to the Aztecs about what it meant to coach his players.

"To a man, they supported me in this decision,'' Phillips told ESPN. "I'm the luckiest guy to have coached a group of players like these guys.''

Phillips said he loved the situation at Ohio and said it was the right fit. The last few coaches at Ohio have all left on their own, with Tim O'Shea going to Bryant University, John Groce to Illinois and Christian to Boston College.

"I am extremely excited about the future of Ohio basketball and I am elated to have a chance to add to its rich tradition," Phillips said in a statement posted on the athletic department's website. "This is an outstanding university in a terrific community. I share the vision of the administration as to what the enormous potential is of this storied program.

"I simply cannot wait to start working with our players and helping them reach their potential. I want our fans and my players to know that I will pour maximum energy and enthusiasm into Bobcat basketball."

Phillips was at NDSU for seven years as a head coach and three as an assistant to Tim Miles, who left to be the head coach at Colorado State before going to Nebraska. Associate head coach Dave Richman is expected to be a strong candidate to replace Phillips.