• Fred

Winningest (CSU) Coach Ever


Earlier this week, Cleveland State Men's Basketball Coach Gary Waters resigned. Some local media outlets have speculated that Gary Waters was pushed out of his job, but either way, there is a coaches search underway.

Now Cleveland State doesn't have a football team, so the basketball team is traditionally the biggest game on campus. As an alumni, I wanted to thank Gary Waters for the dignity and passion he brought to the Cleveland State program.

Remarkably, Gary Waters left Cleveland State as their winningest coach ever, going 194-172, very respectable for a team in the Horizon League. Remember, Cleveland State's greatest game on the basketball court before the Waters' era was a loss in the Sweet Sixteen in the 1986 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament to David Robinson and Navy, 71-70. The results of that game were somewhat tarnished a few years later by the whole Kevin Mackey debacle in the 1990 offseason.

You don't remember the Kevin Mackey debacle? Time has softened the details, but if you look on Wikipedia, it simply says Mackey was fired due to a DUI. Uh, that was the tip of the Iceberg. I remember the hookers and the crackhouse. You can read a very animated version of that story here by Scott Raab: The Fall of Kevin Mackey.

Now Kevin Mackey never coached another college basketball game again. No other CSU coach has even approached Gary Waters' resume. He had spun silk into gold at Kent State, had a respectable record at Rutgers, and was an integral presence off the court for CSU, all on top of NCAA, NIT, and CIT tournament appearances for the Vikings. The purpose of this Thank You to Gary Waters is that for being the winningest coach in CSU history, the end came quietly without the fanfare and accolades usually accorded to one of the best college basketball coaches of his era.

I'm not using hyperbole. Gary Waters is listed as #163 all-time in Wins for College Basketball Coaches in History according to Sports Reference.com.

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