CLEVELAND -- Gary Waters, who twice took Kent State to the
NCAA Tournament but couldn't get Rutgers there in five seasons, was
hired Thursday at Cleveland State, a program in disrepair.
Waters replaces Mike Garland, a former assistant at Michigan
State, who resigned last week after winning just 23 games in three
years at Cleveland State.
Athletic director Lee Reed said details on Waters' contract
still need to be finalized and approved by the school's board of
"The addition of Gary Waters as head coach will hopefully be
viewed years from now as the turning point in the history of the
Cleveland State basketball program," Reed said. "To hire a head
coach who has achieved the things that Gary has is a big step for
the Viking program.
"The search for a head coach was made very easy because every
avenue I explored came back to Gary Waters. He is an experienced
Division I basketball coach who has shown the ability to get the
most out of his players and take programs to the next level."
The 54-year-old Waters resigned at Rutgers on March 1 amid
speculation about his future at the school.
He had been criticized after missing a game against Marquette on
Feb. 12. He had flown to Ohio the day before to be inducted into
Kent State's athletic hall of fame. A snowstorm delayed flights the
Rutgers officials have insisted Waters' departure had no ties to
him missing the game.
Waters led Kent State to a 92-60 record and two NCAA appearances
before taking the Rutgers job in 2001.
In five seasons, he took the Scarlet Knights to three National
Invitation Tournaments and a 79-74 record but wasn't able to take
the program to an elite level.
A strong recruiter, Waters' connections should help bring better
talent to Cleveland State, which hasn't won a Horizon League
Tournament game in five years and hasn't been in the NCAA field
since its memorable run in 1986.
That year, the underdog Vikings knocked off Indiana before
losing in the East Regional semifinals to a Navy team led by David
"I am happy to be back coaching in northeast Ohio," Waters
said. "This is where I received my head coaching start 10 years
ago and I look forward to adding to my coaching memories in this
"I have always viewed Cleveland State basketball as a program
with a great deal of potential and it is my goal to build a program
that the whole city will get behind."
Waters served as an assistant coach for 22 years at Ferris State
and Eastern Michigan before taking over as head coach at Kent State