Gene Cross<br> (THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER)<br> <img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/graphics/icons/audio.gif> <font color=red><b>LISTEN:</b></font> <a href=/assets/wav/TO43354411.WMA><b> UT news conference introducing Gene Cross</b></a>
The University of Toledo officially named Gene Cross its new men's basketball coach today at a news conference.
"We found the perfect fit for our program," UT athletic director Mike O'Brien said.
Cross, a 36-year-old Chicago native, has been an assistant coach at Notre Dame for the past two years. He started his coaching career at Marion-Franklin High School in Columbus.
"I'm excited to be here," Cross said. "It's an honor and a privilege to be the next Toledo basketball coach. My vision is to provide the most complete student-athlete experience."
Cross replaces Stan Joplin, who was fired after 12 seasons at UT.
An Illinois graduate, Cross has also coached at Virginia, DePaul and Illinois-Chicago.
(From earlier editions)
By MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
The University of Toledo is expected to name Notre Dame assistant Gene Cross its new men's basketball coach today.
Former Providence coach Tim Welsh also interviewed but took his name out of the running for the job after he visted the campus. Cross also interviewed on campus this week and a representative of UT called one of Cross references yesterday.
UT athletic director Mike O'Brien had no comment on the coaching search last night.
UT president Lloyd Jacobs stated on Wednesday at a speaking engagement that the Rockets would have a new coach by the end of the week.
The 36-year-old Cross has received recognition as one of 10 assistant coaches "ready to take the next step" to become a head coach by CBSSportsline.com and also as a top 25 recruiter by Rivals.com.
Cross, who could not be reached for comment last night, has extensive recruiting ties in Chicago. That's an area UT has had much recruiting success in recently, signing Chicago natives such as Florentino Valencia, Jerrah Young and Tyrone Kent.
He has 12 years of coaching experience at the Division I level and also played at Illinois. Cross has coached at Virginia, DePaul and Illinois-Chicago and got his master's degree from Ohio State.
UT turned to Cross after talks with Welsh ended. According to a person close to Welsh, UT's insistence on having a sizable buyout penalty in a possible contract if he were to take another position was one reason he lost interest in the job. That's believed to be a reason why former Tennessee coach Buzz Peterson also withdrew his name as a candidate.
Wisconsin assistant Greg Gard and former Saint Louis coach Brad Soderberg were other known candidates.
Gard, who has spent 15 years under Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, has also received accolades in recent times for his assistant coaching. Rivals.com named Gard one of the top 25 assistants in college basketball and Basketball Times also mentioned him as an up-and-coming assistant.
Soderberg, 45, has previous head coaching experience. He coached one year as the interim head coach at Wisconsin and five years at Saint Louis before getting fired last spring. His record coaching the Billikens was 80-74 with two NIT appearances.