Cleveland went 138-108 at BYU

Updated: April 9, 2005, 7:16 PM ET
Associated Press

FRESNO, Calif. -- Steve Cleveland was hired to be Fresno State's basketball coach on Saturday, and the former Brigham Young coach pledged to restore integrity to a program rocked by years of scandals.

Cleveland, who went 138-108 in eight seasons at BYU, replaces Ray Lopes, who resigned March 17 after a school investigation determined he had broken an NCAA rule about telephone calls to recruits.

"My intent is to run this program at the highest level of integrity," Cleveland said at a news conference at the Save Mart Center. "To graduate young men, to have them doing those things on and off the court that would bring great pride to this community.

"It's not going to be easy, and it's not going to be done next Thursday, (but) I love the potential of this program, and the potential of this community."

Jerry Tarkanian, Fresno State's previous coach, spent several years dodging various scandals that undermined public confidence in the program. In fact, the Bulldogs' entire athletic department has been in turmoil since director Scott Johnson resigned just before women's basketball coach Stacy Johnson-Klein was fired on March 2.

Cleveland's squeaky-clean reputation perhaps was even more important to Fresno State than his coaching abilities. Though BYU struggled this season, Cleveland's program largely stayed clear of any scandals at the Mormon Church-owned university.

"He met and exceeded all the criteria that were set in the university search," interim athletic director Paul Oliaro said. "This last year has been a tough one for Steve at BYU, but his overall performance there has been stellar -- and we know about tough years, Steve."

Lopes went 50-37 in three seasons at Fresno State, winning the WAC title in 2003. But the Bulldogs struggled near .500 for the last two years, overshadowing the opening of the Save Mart Center.

"It was critical for us to attract a coach with high integrity and a commitment to rules compliance," Fresno State president John D. Welty said. "A coach who demonstrated a high priority for student-athletes to perform in the classroom."

Cleveland's departure is yet another setback for BYU, which recently fired football coach Gary Crowton and reorganized its athletic department in response to years of slumping competitiveness.

Tom Holmoe, the former Cal football coach who became the Cougars' new athletic director, already has begun to search for a new basketball coach. Dave Rose, Cleveland's associate head coach, is in charge of the program for now.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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