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Published: 3/11/2010

Gene Cross steps down as University of Toledo basketball coach

BLADE STAFF

Gene Cross has resigned as the University of Toledo's men's basketball coach, UT athletic director Mike O'Brien said Thursday.

Cross, who had three years of a five-year contract remaining that called for him to be paid an annual base salary of $280,000 per season, will be paid through Aug. 1.

A UT official who spoke to The Blade on the condition of anonymity insisted that Cross was not fired.

"In our discussions, which were private and personal, it came to the conclusion that this is something that Gene wanted to do," O'Brien said. "This is his decision."

The Rockets finished 4-28 this season - the worst in school history - and were 11-53 in two seasons under Cross.

"He's going to take a step back and see what's out there," O'Brien said. "Gene's very connected. We all hope Gene gets a job soon."

Cross has not returned phone messages seeking comment. He was also not available at his home in Sylvania Township, where there was no answer at the door and his morning Blade was still in the driveway.

Cross, 38, also received $30,000 a year as compensation for taking part in a coach's show, speeches, and other appearances on behalf of the university. He was hired by O'Brien to replace Stan Joplin, who was fired after the 2007-08 season when the Rockets finished 11-19. UT won 18 games under Joplin in 2006-07.

The Rockets will begin their search for a new coach immediately.

"It's not something you want after a couple years to have to go through another search," O'Brien said. "But this one's different because of the young players and the facilities."

Cross has seen six players leave UT, either voluntarily or by having been kicked off the team, since he was hired. A seventh, student assistant and Clay graduate Zac Taylor, saw his playing career halted by chronic knee and back injuries.

Only two players from Mr. Cross' first recruiting class remain on the roster - sophomores Ian Salter and Larry Bastfield - after redshirt freshman guard Stephen Albrecht, UT's second-leading scorer at the time, opted to seek a transfer at the end of December.

"We were all concerned about the results of this year," said Olivia Summons, chairman of UT's board of trustees. "But we understood this was a young team. I understand he's made this decision [to leave], and we hope to move on."



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