UTA's Cross discusses team's emergence as mid-major power
After leading UT Arlington to its winningest season in program history (27-9) in 2016-17, and the school’s top four seasons in his 11-year tenure at UTA, coach Scott Cross’ name is now more front-of-mind than ever as the NCAA coaching carousel continues to turn.
As of Wednesday, according to the Naples (Fla.) Daily News, no one had yet interviewed for the open coaching job at New Mexico, but Cross’ name was mentioned alongside Florida Gulf Coast coach Joe Dooley’s name as possible candidates.
UPDATE: Albuquerque’s KRQE Sports reported late Thursday night that multiple sources are saying San Antonio Spurs assistant coach James Borrego is negotiating to become UNM’s new head coach.
“Scott [Cross] is one of those young coaches who’s going to be in the mix when names are mentioned when jobs come available,” UTA athletics spokesman Richard Kilwien said Thursday. “We’re not aware of any specific conversations that he’s had with anyone about any open jobs.”
A move west to New Mexico for Cross would not necessarily be as big of a jump in level of play as one might expect, as the Sun Belt Conference climbed to 13th in conference RPI after the 2016-17 season. New Mexico plays in the Mountain West, whose conference RPI is 10th among all conferences.
Each conference sent just one representative to the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
According to Texas state data made public by the Texas Tribune, Cross’ yearly compensation at UTA is $250,000 (base). Former New Mexico coach Craig Neal, who was terminated last week, earned a base salary of $300,000 per year, according to the Albuquerque Business Journal.
Cross could not be immediately reached for comment, but said during a phone interview the day after the season ended that he was not job-hunting. UTA athletic director Jim Baker said, through Kilwien, that it would not be appropriate to comment at this time on whether or not he knew of discussions between Cross and any other school.
“For programs like ours, when your coach is mentioned in these kinds of scenarios, it’s a bit of a badge of honor,” Kilwien said. “It clarifies that we’re building a successful program.”
Cross is 204-148 at UTA in his 11 seasons as head coach. After playing at UTA from 1995-98, Cross became an assistant coach at his alma mater until he was promoted to head coach in 2006. UTA is the only school Cross has ever coached.
He was named the District Coach of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches following the 2016-17 season.
Matthew Martinez: 817-390-7667; @MCTinez817