Waters, Rutgers to part after season

Updated: March 1, 2006, 6:24 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Rutgers coach Gary Waters announced Wednesday he will resign at the end of the season, finishing his five-year tenure with the Scarlet Knights.

Waters said during a conference call with the media Wednesday afternoon that "it's time to move on." He said his resignation was a mutual decision. "They [the Rutgers administration] asked me to clean up the program and the program is now clean. It's time for me to move on to a different place. It wasn't the right match."

Gary Waters
Andy Altenburger/Icon SMIGary Waters will finish the season with Rutgers.

Waters said he wasn't forced to resign before the end of the season. Waters said he wanted to finish the season because "it's important to me since I brought these players here and I want to continue to coach them."

Rutgers finishes the regular season Sunday at St. John's before the Big East tournament next week.

Waters said he signed a buyout and "everything fit the way the contract read. We decided we wanted a buyout and the total package of quite a bit, but the only thing I know is the initial package is $550,000."

Waters got a four-year extension after last season.

Waters met with his team Wednesday to tell the players he's out. He gave the Scarlet Knights Monday and Tuesday off because they don't play until Sunday.

"They were down, and there was some frustration," Waters said. "I made them realize that they can move forward and still obtain all the goals and objectives. I had to make them realize my situation. This is the best move for me."

Assistant Fred Hill Jr., who was hired away from Villanova last season to help with recruiting, is expected to take over for Waters. Hill came to Rutgers with the expectation that he would one day be the head coach. He doesn't have a signed deal in place to take over for Waters.

Waters has said he and Hill have a good relationship and he wanted to bring in Hill to help recruit New Jersey. Hill is a New Jersey native who worked at Seton Hall before going to Villanova.

Waters said Hill and he had a plan to take the Scarlet Knights to the Final Four. He said the program is on the verge of an NCAA Tournament berth next season. If the Scarlet Knights beat the Red Storm, they'll finish with "at 7-9 in the best conference in the season."

Waters arrived at Rutgers in April of 2001 after coaching at Kent State, where he took the Golden Flashes to two NCAA and one NIT appearance in five years.

Waters' highlight season was a 20-13 2003-04 season, the first 20-win season for Rutgers since 1982-83, and a berth in the NIT final four.

Rutgers is 16-12 this season, 6-9 in the Big East. The Scarlet Knights have one of the top scorers in the country in junior Quincy Douby (24.7 ppg). The Scarlet Knights don't have a senior among their top six scorers so if Douby returns (he could declare for the NBA draft), then the Knights should improve in the Big East next season.

Talk of Waters leaving escalated when he missed the Feb. 12 home game against Marquette to go to the Kent State Hall of Fame induction ceremony. He tried to get back for the game, but a blizzard shut down airports all along the Northeast corridor. But Rutgers athletic director Robert Mulcahy said in a statement that missing the game had nothing to do with Wednesday's resignation.

Hill coached the Knights to a win over the Golden Eagles, a key victory that helped Rutgers move up in the standings to avoid missing the Big East tournament.

Waters, who was brought in to clean up a program perceived to be in a mess, wants to coach next season. Waters earlier said he'd like to coach back in the Midwest or in the South and wouldn't mind going back to the MAC where he was successful.

Indiana coach Mike Davis, like Waters, is coaching his team despite already announcing he has resigned.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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