Ayers agrees on contract buyout from Ohio State

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Randy Ayers’ job prospects are uncertain, but a $637,353 payment from Ohio State should ease the pain of scanning the want ads.
Ayers, 124-108 in eight years before his firing on March 10, agreed to that hefty sum on Monday as the buyout for the remaining two years of his contract as the Buckeyes’ head men’s basketball coach.
Ayers, usually stoic, was emotional about his firing by Ohio State athletics director Andy Geiger.
Flanked by his wife, Carol, and attorney, Michael H. Carpenter, he said he was coming to terms with his dismissal.
“You’ve got to go on. I don’t want to be in a state of denial the rest of my life,” he said. “I’ve got to do what is healthy for my family, and that’s to pick up and go on.”
He said he hoped to coach again, possibly even next season at either the college or pro level.
“I’m just considering my options, although my wife told me last Thursday when I called home that I had two months to get a job,” he said with a laugh. “I’d like to stay in coaching. I’ve been around the game since I was 4 years old. I’m considering my options. I’ve talked to a number of people, I’ve turned down a number of things and am reconsidering a number of things.”
Ayers was told by Geiger and by OSU president E. Gordon Gee prior to the 1996-97 season that he needed to finish in the top half of the Big Ten standings to keep his job.
The day after the Buckeyes lost to Michigan 86-81 to finish in ninth place and four games out of a tie for sixth, Geiger pulled the plug. The team’s 10-17 record was the Buckeyes’ second in a row under Ayers. It was the first time in 98 years that Ohio State men’s basketball had strung together four straight losing seasons.
“It wasn’t a surprise, but I thought if we continued to show some progress … I thought the kids did that. Even though we lost nine out of our last 10, I still think we made a lot of progress,” Ayers said.
Jim O’Brien, the head coach at Boston College last year, was hired on April 2 to replace Ayers.
The contract buyout money will be paid to Ayers in two installments. A clause in his contract required reimbursing Ohio State for any money he earned in a subsequent coaching job, but the buyout agreement eliminated that obligation.
“Those clauses are really a part of pretty old contracts,” Geiger said. “We don’t write contracts that same way anymore.”
Ohio State was bound to pay Ayers only salary and benefits for the final two years of his contract, which would total $287,010. Ayers’ lawyer said a key point of the buyout agreement was that Ayers would waive his right to any future lawsuits to seek additional compensation from the university.
Ayers said he was seeking closure by meeting with the media. He wished his players in the program good luck and complimented O’Brien as a good coach.
“I may not ever get over it,” Ayers said of his firing. “It was a great experience there.”
“We remain full of respect for Randy,” Geiger said. “He’s been a good friend. He worked hard and served the university well. Although this brings closure of a sort, it’s still not the outcome that either of us wanted.