Steve Cleveland
Steve  Cleveland

Fresno, Calif.


6th Year


Men's Basketball opens WAC play

MBK vs San Jose


AP Photos: Fresno State at No. 24 BYU

AP Photos: Fresno State at No. 24 BYU


Bulldogs Fall To Broncos, 65-49

Men's basketball team returns to action against Hawaii next Saturday.


Dog's battle the Aggies in WAC play



Men's Basketball: Fresno State 73, Colorado State 50 (12/28/09)

An aggressive defensive focus and rested Bulldog roster attacked from start to finish in a relentless 73-50 victory over the Mountain West's Colorado State on Monday night in the Save Mart Center.

Cleveland's Career Highlights (Updated March 2011)

  • Career Record: 230-206 (14 years)
  • School Record: 92-98 (6 years)
  • Postseason Experience: 3 NCAA Appearances & 3 NIT Appearances

    Coach Cleveland earned his 200th career Division I victory as the Bulldogs beat the Nevada Wolf Pack 68-66 in February 2009.

    Cleveland's Career Overview
    With a passionate and unwavering commitment to elevating the excellence of Bulldog student-athletes on the basketball hardwood and in the classroom, head coach Steve Cleveland has built a solid and talented foundation of dynamic individuals primed for consistent postseason success.

    In his six seasons at Fresno State, Cleveland surpassed the 200-career win milestone and improved his overall record as a Division I head coach to 230-206. He has tallied a 92-98 mark at Fresno State while recharging his hometown Bulldogs into a model of academic excellence through a commitment to embodying the core values of character, integrity and civic engagement and cultivating and strengthening the blocks for premier athletic competition at the national level.

    By establishing a new brand of Bulldog basketball to highlight a storied Fresno State tradition, Cleveland and his staff truly transformed the culture of the program academically and athletically.

    The "Built to Last" approach placed a paramount emphasis on graduating student-athletes.

    Over a twelve-month span, nine men's basketball student-athletes graduated to mark the most in the program's history for a similar span. His Bulldogs also made the largest leap in their collective grade point average of any Fresno State team from fall 2007 to fall 2008.

    Cleveland's system produced the program's first Academic All-District VIII honoree when sophomore forward Nedeljko Golubovic received the elite recognition in February 2009, which he repeated for back-to-back-to-back CoSIDA accolades as the only University Division student-athlete from a California college honored in any district in each season. In 2009, Golubovic was also the lone representative from a Western Athletic Conference school honored. The WAC also designated Golubovic and freshman guard Brandon Sperling for Academic All-WAC accolades for their accomplishments during 2008-09.

    These outstanding feats led to significant strides in the Bulldogs' Academic Progress Rate (APR) score that soared 104 points in a single season. The unprecedented increase returned a full complement of 13 available scholarships for the 2009-10 campaign.

    During his 14 seasons as a Division I head coach, Cleveland has fostered the success of a three-time Academic All-District winner, 25 all-conference selections and 35 academic all-conference honorees.

    On the hardwood, Cleveland orchestrated a four-place improvement in WAC regular season play in 2009-10, the largest one-year surge by any conference school in seven years, and more than doubled the team's conference win total from the previous season.

    As a respected and innovative teacher of the game, Cleveland closely refined the development of guard/forward Paul George, who recorded the program's best single-season free throw percentage (120-132, 91%) and earned 2009-10 second-team All-WAC accolades as the team's top scorer, rebounder and steals producer. George,'s Most Entertaining Player in the West (October 2009), also delivered one of the most impressive freshman performances in Bulldog history during the 2008-09 season. He ranked as one of the top 15 freshman scorers in the NCAA and led the team with the third-best season 3-point field goal percentage (63-141, 44.6%) in school history.

    Cleveland, a Fresno-native, also secured and fostered the growth of post power Greg Smith, a local product also from Fresno, Calif., to WAC Freshman of the Year and All-Newcomer Team honors as one of the nation's premier freshmen with one of the league's top five field goal percentages (85-145, 59%).

    On the recruiting front, he produced the 12th best mid-major 2009 early signing recruiting class in the nation, which included Smith, Garrett Johnson and Jerry Brown III. The highly-touted group improved in the spring with skilled junior college leader Steven Shepp, who established himself as a top-tier WAC point guard, and respected Division I transfer Jonathan Wills. In fall 2009, Cleveland added John Ryan, a 6-10, 250-lbs center from El Segundo High School for his 2010-11 recruiting class.

    In 2008-09, his offense continued to top the WAC in 3-point shooting for the third straight season with an average of 7.1 triples made per game. Five newcomers contributed considerable minutes, including four freshmen that finished in the top 10 of WAC freshmen for minutes played per contest.

    Cleveland additionally provided the leadership for his 21st all-conference selection. Junior forward Sylvester Seay earned second-team All-WAC honors as the team's leading scorer (15.3 ppg) and finished third in the conference with 17.6 points per game against WAC opponents.

    Cleveland's team continued to draw record crowds and extensive community support to the pristine Save Mart Center as the Bulldogs lead the WAC in home attendance since 2003-04.

    His 2007-08 team also had paced the conference from long range with over eight 3-pointers per contest and landed a pair of Bulldogs, senior guards Kevin Bell and Eddie Miller, in the top 10 of all WAC scorers. Bell concluded his career as Fresno State's all-time assists leader with 599 assists.

    Cleveland returned his Bulldogs to the postseason for the first time in five years as part of the 2006-07 campaign. Their 22-10 overall record, which marks only the 16th time in school history a coach directed his squad to over 20 wins in a season and the most wins since the 1995-96 NIT Quarterfinal team, garnered a spot in the postseason 2007 National Invitation Tournament (NIT).

    Cleveland and the Bulldogs began that season 7-0 and received votes in both national polls twice. Before heading into conference play, the Bulldogs carried an 11-2 record. Fresno State finished alone in third place in the WAC with a 10-6 mark. The Dogs ended the season ranked No. 9 in the nation in 3-pointers made per game.

    With Cleveland's tutelage, two Bulldogs grabbed all-WAC honors (Dominic McGuire and Quinton Hosley). The Washington Wizards picked McGuire in the second round of the NBA Draft after he set the single-season school record for blocks with 114 and ranked No. 5 in the nation.

    In his first year at Fresno State's helm, Cleveland sparked two student-athletes to 2005-06 all-conference accolades, including Hosley who landed on the WAC All-Newcomer Team.

    The Bulldogs set a new home court record for wins (12), which Cleveland broke in his second season with 15 wins, and set or tied 19 new arena marks. Cleveland sparked the team to a winning season for the ninth time by a first-year coach as well as establishing the fifth-most wins (15) by a first-year Fresno State skipper.

    Coach Cleveland led the Bulldogs to 22 wins in 2006-07, the most victories at Fresno State in 10 years.

    A trio of Bulldogs not only finished the year as the WAC leaders in assists (Kevin Bell), 3-pointers (Ja'Vance Coleman) and steals (Quinton Hosley) but the same three also would be nationally-ranked throughout the season in their respective categories. Fresno State, which led the conference in four statistical categories overall, finished as the top scoring team in the WAC with a 73.8 point per game average.

    He also steered his Bulldogs to score 2,000-plus points in a season for the 17th time since 1972 and their single-season free throw percentage (.711) was the eighth-best mark in school history en route to notching his 150th career victory.

    Cleveland spent his previous eight years at Brigham Young University and completely transformed the Cougar program into a consistent postseason factor on the national level.

    After taking over the reins in 1997, Cleveland saw significant progress in just three short years as his newly thriving program went 22-11, advanced to the finals of the inaugural 2000 Mountain West Conference (MWC) Tournament and earned two NIT victories. The Cougars had gone 1-25 in the season prior to Cleveland's arrival in Provo, Utah.

    The 2000-01 campaign was even better as BYU went 24-9 (10-4 MWC), tied for the league's regular season title, won the conference tournament, the school's first such title since 1992, and played in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1995.

    In the three years that followed, Cleveland guided the Cougars to the postseason every year with two NCAA appearances and one berth in the NIT.

    The success that Cleveland helped craft had another positive effect by building community support as BYU turned into one of the national leaders in attendance. The Cougars averaged over 13,000 fans in five of his last six years. From 1999-04, the Marriott Center, home to BYU basketball, was the toughest road destination in the country. During that five-year stretch, the Cougars dominated at home (71-3) and boasted the nation's longest home winning streak over parts of the 2002 and '03 seasons, which reached 44 games until being snapped.

    A proven recruiter, Cleveland's stamp on the BYU program is indelible. Eight of his players were honored with a major conference award, including Rafael Araujo, who under Cleveland's tutelage became one of the top players in the MWC on his way to his selection in the 2004 NBA Draft with the No. 8 overall pick.

    One of the defining characteristics of Cleveland is his unparalleled ability to build a solid program that embodies the highest academic, athletic and ethical standards, which is a prime example of how his Cougars thrived under his leadership. His teams recorded the highest graduation rate in the Mountain West Conference for seven years in a row and his 2003-04 team averaged a 3.0 cumulative GPA.

    Over his eight-year BYU tenure, Cleveland, who was honored as the 2003 MWC Coach of the Year, delivered a 138-108 tally, posted four 20-win seasons, secured two regular season titles, won a conference tournament championship, made three NCAA Tournament appearances and two berths in the NIT while a league-best 24 Cougars were Academic All-Conference honorees.

    Cleveland grew up in Fresno and coached at local Clovis West High School. Under Cleveland, the Golden Eagles excelled while racking up a 180-70 record.

    His success continued after shifting over to Fresno City College, where he compiled a 157-77 mark. Cleveland received coach of the year honors twice while leading the Rams to the postseason playoffs in all seven seasons. This opportunity allowed him to mold the development of a host of future basketball standouts, including eventual 2009 NBA Finals participant and Fresno State's single season assists leader Rafer Alston.

    Cleveland, 57, graduated from Hoover High School in Fresno and played basketball at Fresno City College, where he was named his squad's Most Outstanding Player in 1973-74. He later starred as the Anteaters' MVP while leading the team in scoring during his senior campaign at UC Irvine, where he played from 1974-76.

    He earned a bachelor's degree in social science from UC Irvine in 1976 and received a master's in education administration from Fresno Pacific University in 1979.

    Cleveland, the 17th head coach of the Fresno State men's basketball program, and his wife, Kip, have three children - Casey, Skyler and Katie.

    Cleveland's Career Statistics

    Year School Season Record Conference Record Notes
    1997-98BYU9-214-10 (6th)--
    1998-99BYU12-166-8 (5th)--
    1999-00BYU22-117-7 (6th)NIT Quarterfinals
    2000-01BYU24-910-4 (T1st*)NCAA First Round; * Won MWC Tournament
    2001-02BYU18-127-7 (T4th)NIT Second Round
    2002-03BYU23-911-3 (T1st)NCAA First Round
    2003-04BYU21-910-4 (2nd)NCAA First Round
    2004-05BYU9-213-11 (T7th)--
    2005-06Fresno State15-138-8 (6th)--
    2006-07Fresno State22-1010-6 (3rd)NIT First Round
    2007-08Fresno State13-195-11 (6th)WAC Quarterfinals
    2008-09Fresno State13-213-13 (8th)WAC Quarterfinals
    2009-10Fresno State15-187-9 (5th)WAC Quarterfinals
    2010-11Fresno State14-176-10 (7th)WAC First Round
    14 Years230-206 (.527)97-111 (.466)3 NCAA Tournaments; 3 NIT Appearances

    Cleveland Notables

    • Became Fresno State's 17th head coach on April 9, 2005

    • It took Cleveland just one season to take Fresno State back to the postseason. In his second year Cleveland went 22-10 and led the Bulldogs to the NIT

    • The 22 wins in Cleveland's second year are the most wins in the program since the 1995-96 season

    • Coach Cleveland helped develop Dominic McGuire into a second-round NBA Draft pick and a second-team All-WAC, All-WAC Defensive Team and All-WAC Newcomer Team player in his only season at Fresno State

    • Cleveland led the Bulldogs to a third place finish in the WAC in 2006-07, their best finish since 2002-03

    • Led the WAC in attendance in first four seasons

    • In the 2005-06 season, averaged 10,407 fans to lead all WAC schools

    • As a first-year coach at Fresno State in 2005-06, recorded the fifth-most wins while coaching the program to a winning season for the ninth time by a first-year Bulldog skipper

    • In 2005-06, collected his 150th career victory and saw the Bulldogs set a new record for home victories (12) while setting/tying 19 records at the Save Mart Center

    • Helped restore the tradition of BYU basketball in his eight seasons in Provo, Utah

    • Cleveland posted a 138-108 eight-year record at BYU and was named the 2003 Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year

    • His 2001 and 2003 teams earned MWC regular-season titles, with the 2001 squad also claiming the MWC Tournament crown.

    • The Cougars received five straight postseason tournament invitations, including three NCAA Tournament bids and two NIT showings, while leading BYU to four 20-win campaigns

    • Averaged 17 wins per season at BYU, Cleveland's 138 victories ranks fourth all-time among BYU coaches

    • Named Mountain West Conference's top strategist by 2004 Street & Smith Basketball Preview

    • Rebuilt 1-25 program into conference championship team in four seasons

    • In 2000-01, guided BYU to its first NCAA Tournament since 1995, its first conference regular-season title since 1993 and its first conference tournament championship since 1992

    • The Cougars owned the nation's longest home court victory streak for much of the 2002 and '03 seasons at 44 games

    • Eight players were honored in his eight years at BYU as either the conference newcomer or freshman of the year

    • Shared for the most conference wins (48) by a MWC coach in his eight-year stint

    • Coached Rafael Araujo, who was BYU's 43rd NBA draft selection and sixth first round pick when he was taken No. 8 overall in the 2004 NBA Draft, and Travis Hansen, who was taken in the 2003 NBA Draft second round by the Atlanta Hawks

    • In the 2003-04 season, BYU averaged 15,300 fans per home game - 11th best in the nation

    • In the 2002-03 season, BYU had the nation's No. 1 average season increase in attendance to average 14,468 to rank 17th nationally

    • Coached two All-Americans, 15 all-conference and 24 conference all-academic selections at BYU

    • His BYU team achieved an NCAA Academic Progress Report of 964

    • Prior to being hired at BYU on March 11, 1997, Cleveland coached for 17 years in Fresno

    • With 538 wins in 29 years as a head coach at the high school, junior college and Division I levels, he has averaged 19 victories per season

    • Has won conference championships on the high school, junior college and Division I levels

    Special Features on Coach Cleveland
  • Cleveland Returns Home (PDF)
  • Cleveland's Expectations (PDF)
  • Cleveland Q&A (PDF)

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