CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland State men’s basketball team will have a new coach on the bench when it takes the court next season.
Following a 9-22 season that ended with a loss to Youngstown State in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament last week, Gary Waters announced his retirement from coaching on Tuesday after more than a decade-long run with the school.
"My time here at Cleveland State has been a tremendous capstone to my coaching career,” Waters said in a release announcing the move. “I have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to mentor an amazing group of student-athletes and look forward to the opportunity to continue to support the program in the future."
Waters spent 11 seasons at the helm of the Vikings’ men’s basketball program, helping return Cleveland State to prominence in the Horizon League and back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1987 when it qualified for the national championship tournament in 2009.
Waters won 194 games at Cleveland State, posting a 194-172 record over his 11 seasons, six of which ended in postseason appearances, including NIT invitations in 2008, 2011 and 2012, the NCAA bid in 2009, and a pair of Collegiate Basketball Invitational berths in 2014 and 2015.
Waters led the Vikings to their first two trips to the Horizon League Championship Game, including a 2009 win over the Butler Bulldogs on the road. Subsequently, as a 13-seed in the NCAA Tournament after winning the Horizon League, the Vikings upset fourth-seeded Wake Forest in the first round.
“Gary Waters has been a tremendous leader for our men's basketball program, both on the court and as a mentor and educator to countless young men,” CSU President Ronald Berkman said. “I want to personally thank him for his tremendous service to the university and for creating an environment that dually promotes athletic and academic success.”
During his time with the program, Waters guided the Vikings to five wins against nationally-ranked opponents. Prior to his arrival, the Vikings went 1-24 against ranked opponents. One of those five wins came against Vanderbilt in the 2011-2012 season opener, and No. 7 Commodores remain the highest-ranked opponent ever beaten by Cleveland State.
“CSU is in an excellent position to compete regularly for the Horizon League title and produce top level student-athletes who can succeed in all aspects of campus life,” said CSU athletic director Mike Thomas. “I am looking forward to working with the next men's coach to help our team meet these goals.”
Prior to arriving at Cleveland State, Waters rebuilt the Kent State men’s basketball program, leading the Golden Flashes to a 92-60 record in five years.
During the 2000-2001 season at Kent State, Waters guided the Golden Flashes to a school-record 24 wins and both the Mid-American Conference regular-season and tournament championships. Then, in the NCAA Tournament, the 13th-seeded Golden Flashes upset the Indiana Hoosiers, 77-73, in the first round.
Waters also coached at Rutgers University before taking over as head coach of the Vikings in 2006.
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