FRESNO, Calif. -- Steve Cleveland was hired to be Fresno
State's basketball coach on Saturday, and the former Brigham Young
coach pledged to restore integrity to a program rocked by years of
Cleveland, who went 138-108 in eight seasons at BYU, replaces
Ray Lopes, who resigned March 17 after a school investigation
determined he had broken an NCAA rule about telephone calls to
"My intent is to run this program at the highest level of
integrity," Cleveland said at a news conference at the Save Mart
Center. "To graduate young men, to have them doing those things on
and off the court that would bring great pride to this community.
"It's not going to be easy, and it's not going to be done next
Thursday, (but) I love the potential of this program, and the
potential of this community."
Jerry Tarkanian, Fresno State's previous coach, spent several
years dodging various scandals that undermined public confidence in
the program. In fact, the Bulldogs' entire athletic department has
been in turmoil since director Scott Johnson resigned just before
women's basketball coach Stacy Johnson-Klein was fired on March 2.
Cleveland's squeaky-clean reputation perhaps was even more
important to Fresno State than his coaching abilities. Though BYU
struggled this season, Cleveland's program largely stayed clear of
any scandals at the Mormon Church-owned university.
"He met and exceeded all the criteria that were set in the
university search," interim athletic director Paul Oliaro said.
"This last year has been a tough one for Steve at BYU, but his
overall performance there has been stellar -- and we know about
tough years, Steve."
Lopes went 50-37 in three seasons at Fresno State, winning the
WAC title in 2003. But the Bulldogs struggled near .500 for the
last two years, overshadowing the opening of the Save Mart Center.
"It was critical for us to attract a coach with high integrity
and a commitment to rules compliance," Fresno State president John
D. Welty said. "A coach who demonstrated a high priority for
student-athletes to perform in the classroom."
Cleveland's departure is yet another setback for BYU, which
recently fired football coach Gary Crowton and reorganized its
athletic department in response to years of slumping
Tom Holmoe, the former Cal football coach who became the
Cougars' new athletic director, already has begun to search for a
new basketball coach. Dave Rose, Cleveland's associate head coach,
is in charge of the program for now.