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Published April 06, 2014, 04:58 PM

Phillips leaves after historic season

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - The writing was on the wall for Saul Phillips after a historic season that saw NDSU win its first NCAA Tournament game.

By: Dom Izzo, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - The writing was on the wall for Saul Phillips after a historic season that saw NDSU win its first NCAA Tournament game.

Late Saturday night, Ohio University announced that Phillips accepted the Bobcats head basketball coaching position.

Phillips' new deal is for five years, paying him $550,000 per year, more than tripling his current contract at NDSU.

Saul Phillips leaves NDSU after taking the Bison men's basketball program to unprecedented heights.

He inherited a job that was filled with pressure, leading a program that had the most highly-touted class of talent in school history.

He brought the Bison to their first NCAA Tournament in that first year of eligibility, capped off with a near upset win of mighty Kansas.

Phillips' team struggled after that winning just 11 games the following year to 14 to then 17 and that's where his former boss says he showed his true hoops knowledge.

Taylor: "He had to rebuild it. He a great plan, did a great job with that

for his short career to go to 2 NCAA Tournaments and have a win over Oklahoma and have two conference championships; pretty incredible run, very very impressive, coaches like that, they get a chance to make more money and that's what happens to them."

Phillips is leaving for a program in Ohio that's coming off a 25-win season in the MAC.

It's considered one of the top mid-major jobs in the country and Taylor knew when that job opened it was going to be tough.

Taylor: "I knew kinda hoping be in the clear, when I heard Ohio U was starting to talk to him, knew it was going to be hard not to hire him."

The Bison men's basketball team is now known nationally and has a different appeal to it than it did five years ago, and with a new facility on the horizon, this job is going to attract plenty of candidates.

Taylor: "The success we've had; it's a program that's available because of success rather than we struggled, so I think the quality of candidate pool is going to be pretty high."

Associate head coach Dave Richman says he will apply for the job, while

Wil Ryan will go with Phillips to Ohio.

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