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Published: Tuesday, 3/16/2010

Scuffle involved Cross, ex-Hen

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE PROJECTS EDITOR

A woman scorned by Gene Cross writes a letter.

But when the former University of Toledo men's basketball coach becomes involved with a different woman - this time the girlfriend of a former Detroit Tiger and Toledo Mud Hen - a bench-clearing brawl ensues in that woman's Sylvania Township home.

Former outfielder Joe Hall, 44, was arrested on Oct. 15 at around 2 a.m. and initially charged with assault and aggravated trespassing shortly after he discovered and confronted Cross at the home of a woman Hall said was his girlfriend.

According to a Sylvania Township police report, Hall "grabbed," "hit," and "choked" Cross after forcing his way into the home of Michelle Carter. Hall spent the night in the Lucas County jail and eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct.

Cross resigned his post as UT coach Thursday - and walked away from more than $700,000 owed to him by the university - just a few days after learning his bosses were in receipt of an accusatory, lurid letter detailing his alleged relationships with several women.

The incident involving Cross, Hall, and Carter - which took place just days before the Rockets were set to begin practice for the 2009-10 season - was not included in the letter written by Dawn Gears of Ottawa Hills. Gears said in her letter to UT officials that she dated Cross from February to October.

Cross did not return a phone message seeking comment for this report. Carter was reached at her home and declined to comment.

Hall, who had 19 at-bats during brief stints with Detroit in 1995 and 1997 and played regularly for the Triple-A Hens during those seasons, told The Blade yesterday that he was "made out to be the bad guy in this situation, if you know what I mean."

Hall Hall
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"What I did was wrong. I broke the law," said Hall, who said the statements Carter and Cross made to police regarding the physical altercations between them were exaggerated. "I was angry. This was a girl I cared about."

Hall said he dated Carter on and off for three years and was dating her at the time of the dispute. In her statement to police, Carter said she and Hall had been broken up for four months.

Hall said he drove to Carter's house and saw Cross' vehicle parked in the driveway. He said he had known Cross and Cross' girlfriend at the time and had participated in an aerobics class with them earlier on Oct. 14.

Hall said he called Cross' cell phone, and when he viewed Cross reach for his phone through a window in Carter's home, he became angry. He said he pushed Carter aside and went after Cross.

"I knew what he was about," Hall said of Cross. "If you're gonna do something like that, do it with somebody else."

According to Cross' statement to police, Hall knocked on the door for several minutes. When Carter finally unlocked the door, Hall "lunged" toward Cross.

"He started screaming 'you are my boy' and 'we hung out' … while I attempted to hold onto him," Cross told police.

According to the police report, Hall shoved Carter to the floor after she called police and entangled with Cross again. Hall disputed those facts to The Blade.

The police report states that Cross, identified as "victim #2," had visible marks on his left forearm and on the back of his neck.

Larry Burns, vice president of external affairs at UT, said neither he nor athletic director Mike O'Brien were aware of the incident. Burns said UT did not investigate the accusations made in Gears' letter because Cross resigned but also said university officials did not ask or force Cross to step down.

The Rockets were 4-28 this season and 11-53 under Cross in his two years at UT. He had three years remaining on his contract.

In Gears' letter, which O'Brien received on March 5 and discussed with Cross on March 8, Gears describes catching Cross with another woman at his home in October - the same month Hall stumbled upon Cross and Carter.

Gears said she heard a woman screaming when she rang the doorbell at Cross' home but "couldn't decipher if she was in trouble or not."

"As it turned out, that woman was Angie [last name redacted in the letter by UT], who dated Gene since April," Gears' letter reads.

Gears also alleged that Cross took "Angie" and others with him on recruiting trips and on the team bus for away games.

Contact Joe Vardon at:

jvardon@theblade.com

or 419-724-6559.



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