Ex-Rutgers coach Waters hired at Cleveland State
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 trustees.
"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 next day.
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 Robinson.
"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 area.
"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 in 1996.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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