March 17, 2011
FRESNO, Calif. - A man who guided the Bulldog men's basketball team through the most difficult time in the history of the program will step down as head coach.
Steve Cleveland, who is credited with changing the culture of the men's basketball program relative to student-athlete conduct, academic progress and NCAA rules compliance, will depart his position after six seasons as head coach. Cleveland will assume reassignment to an administrative post within the Department of Athletics.
This past season the Bulldogs finished with an overall record of 14-17 and 6-10 in the WAC. Cleveland's coaching agreement was set to expire after the 2013 season.
"I am very grateful for Steve's years of service to Fresno State as well as his extraordinary commitment to the restoration of integrity and academic achievement to the men's basketball program. His efforts have clearly led to the positive transformation of the team's internal culture and provided a stable foundation on which we can build the program," said Fresno State's Director of Athletics Thomas Boeh.
In 2005 Cleveland took over a basketball program that had been severely penalized for two major NCAA rules violations and had one of the nation's worst Academic Progress Rates (APR) among Division I institutions. Since that time the program has operated free of significant violations and APR scores have steadily risen to the point that Fresno State's past NCAA sanctions and probation have been lifted.
Under the watch of Cleveland and his staff, the Bulldog program had nine senior student-athletes graduate from May 2008 to May 2009, which was the most-ever for the Fresno State men's basketball program in a one-year period.
Cleveland leaves as head coach with a 92-98 overall record at the school and Western Athletic Conference mark of 39-57. His tenure was highlighted in 2006-07 when the Dogs had a 22-10 record and advanced to the NIT. His NCAA Division I coaching career record, which included eight seasons at BYU, is 230-208. He took six teams to the postseason, with three NCAA tournament appearances and three in the NIT.
"My experience with the student-athletes and our coaches is something I'll always cherish," said Cleveland. "I appreciate the support we've gotten from our administration and community. I'm proud of our relationships with these young men as we went through this process of rebuilding the program. I want this program to succeed and get to the next level and will do anything I can do to help make that happen in this transition."
Among the notable players he coached at Fresno State, include NBA players Dominic McGuire (Charlotte) and Paul George (Indiana) and current senior Ned Golubovic, the only Academic All-District player in school history. Kevin Bell became the school's all-time assist leader during the Cleveland era, with 599, and McGuire set a Bulldog single season record with 114 blocked shots. George was the No. 10 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Pacers.
Fresno State will immediately begin a national search process to replace Cleveland.
"We Are Your Team!" Follow gobulldogs.com for more information on Fresno State Athletics.
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