April 11, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Gene Cross, an assistant coach on the Notre Dame men’s basketball staff, was today named the head coach at the University of Toledo. A 12-year veteran in the collegiate coaching ranks, Cross spent two seasons with the Irish after being hired in May of 2006.
“This is a very exciting day for Gene Cross,” Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey says. “He is very ready for this position and to be a head coach. He has done a fabulous job here for us at Notre Dame. Gene has a tremendous work ethic and built great relationships with our players. He was an important part of the success we have had the past two seasons. The Notre Dame basketball family is going to miss Gene and we wish him nothing but the best as he embarks on this exceptional opportunity.”
Cross is the second Notre Dame assistant under Brey’s tenure to become a head coach. Anthony Solomon, who spent three seasons on the Irish sidelines from 2000-03, was the head coach at St. Bonaventure University from 2003-07.
Cross played an instrumental role in Notre Dame’s success over the past two seasons as the Irish compiled a 49-16 (.753) overall record and 25-9 (.735) regular-season mark in BIG EAST play. The Irish finished 25-9 in 2007-08, the most wins for a Notre Dame team since 1973-74 when that squad finished 26-3.
After being picked to finish ninth in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches Poll, the Irish finished 14-4 overall and tied for second in the final BIG EAST regular-season standings. The 14-4 ledger marked the best-ever record for a Notre Dame team in conference play since joining the league in 1995-96.
The Irish also recorded back-to-back undefeated seasons at the Joyce Center and currently owns a program-best 37-game win streak at the facility and the second-longest home win streak in Division I. Notre Dame also has won 18 straight BIG EAST contests at home, two away from the conference record of 20 consecutive home wins.
The Irish made their second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance in ’07-’08 and advanced to the second round for the first time since the 2002-03 campaign.
In 2006-07, his first with the Notre Dame program, Cross helped Brey guide the Irish to a 24-8 campaign and 11-5 mark in BIG EAST play. Picked at the beginning of that season to finish 11th in the preseason league poll, Notre Dame ended up with a surprising fourth-place finish and advanced to the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship for the second time in school history before losing to eventual Final Four participant Georgetown.
During the past two seasons, four players have earned first-team all-conference honors — Luke Harangody and Kyle McAlarney in ’07-’08 and Russell Carter and Colin Falls in ’06-’07. Harangody was named the BIG EAST Player of the Year in ’08 and garnered All-America honors after earning conference rookie-of-the-year honors along with Tory Jackson in ’07.
Cross joined the Notre Dame program after spending the 2005-06 campaign at the University of Virginia. In his one season on the Charlottesville, Va., campus, he helped the Cavaliers to a 15-15 overall record and a fifth-place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Virginia finished the conference season with a 7-9 record after being picked to finish 12th in the 12-team league. Virginia’s seven wins were three more than the previous season. Sean Singletary was a first-team all-ACC selection, while J.R. Reynolds was a third-team honoree.
The Cavaliers advanced to the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament after posting a 60-56 first-round victory over Virginia Tech. After falling to 10th-ranked North Carolina in a quarterfinal matchup, Virginia received a berth into the National Invitation Tournament and was defeated in a first-round game at Stanford.
Cross joined the Virginia staff after spending three seasons (2002-05) at DePaul with current Cavalier head coach Dave Leitao where he helped lead the Blue Demons to a 58-34 record for a .630 winning percentage and three postseason appearance (one NCAA and two NIT).
In 2002-03, the first season Leitao and Cross coached at DePaul the Blue Demons posted a 16-13 overall record after finishing the previous season with 9-19 mark.
In Cross’ second season, 2003-04, DePaul reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1989 after winning a share of the program’s first-ever Conference USA regular-season title finishing with a 12-4 mark (most wins in school history) that included a school-record six league wins. As the top seed in the Conference USA Tournament, DePaul advanced to the championship game before losing to Cincinnati 55-50 in the finals.
In the first round of the tournament, DePaul defeated Dayton 76-69 in double overtime before dropping a 72-55 decision to eventual national champion Connecticut in the second round.
In 2004-05, the Blue Demons posted a 20-11 record and its second straight 20-win season for the time since the 1991 and 1992 campaigns. DePaul returned to the NIT that season and fell in its second game of the tournament to Texas A&M after defeating Missouri 75-70 in first-round action.
Prior to his stint at DePaul, Cross spent six seasons (1996-2002) at the University of Illinois-Chicago where he helped the Flames to two conference championships (1998 and 2002) and two NCAA tournament berths, the first two in the program’s history. Seven players earned all-conference honors during his tenure there that also included one player-of-the-year honoree.
In his final season (2001-02) at UIC, the Flames finished with a 20-14 record and claimed the Horizon League tournament title. With the win, UIC earned the conference’s automatic bid into the 64-team NCAA tournament field where it lost to eventual Final Four participant Oklahoma in the first round.
The 1997-98 squad tied a school-record with 22 wins and captured the Midwestern Collegiate Conference regular-season crown. During the regular season, the Flames had victories over conference champions Michigan State (Big Ten), Illinois State (Missouri Valley) and Valparaiso (Mid-Continent) helping them earn an at-large invitation to the NCAA Tournament.
Regarded as a tireless and innovative recruiter, Cross was named one of the top 25 recruiters in college basketball by Rivals in 2005. The ’03 class at DePaul was ranked in the top 20, while the 2000 class at UIC was considered among the top 25.
A native of Chicago, Ill., Cross began his coaching career at Marion-Franklin High School in Columbus, Ohio where he coached the freshman boys’ team and served as assistant varsity boys’ coach during the 1995-96 school year.
Cross played four seasons at the University of Illinois where he lettered twice and helped the Illini to two NCAA tournament appearances in 1993 and 1994.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Illinois in ’94 and received a master’s degree in sport management at Ohio State University in ’96. While at Ohio State, he served as a graduate administrative associate in the Department of Recreational Sports.
Currently, Cross serves as president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Assistant Coaches Board, a position he has held since ’03, and on the NABC Division I Congress. In addition, he also serves as a member of the NABC Special Committee on Recruiting and Access. Cross also is a member of the Black Coaches Association.