TCU NCAA Bid Party
Even though he won 20 games in three straight seasons and is the all-time winningest coach in UTA history, Scott Cross did not see his firing coming, but he was not entirely surprised by the move.
"I probably didn't feel as secure as you might think," Cross said in his first interview since UTA fired him on March 26. "I think you just have that feeling when you know you're really not wanted."
The decision to fire Cross generated more publicity than the school, or Cross, could have ever conceived.
Other than local disgust, ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy ripped the move during a telecast, and ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla took to twitter to criticize the decision, too.
"I was a little bit shocked by all of it," Cross said. "I'm thankful there was so much support."
One of the most popular and well-liked men at UTA has landed in a good spot with a new job close enough that he won't have to move from his house in Mansfield. On Thursday, after three days of interviews, TCU and Jamie Dixon hired Cross to join the men's coaching staff.
Given the competitive nature of major college basketball these days, leaving a Sun Belt head coaching job for an assistant position on a Big 12 bench is not exactly a demotion.
"I can't tell you how excited and blessed I feel to get this opportunity," Cross said. "I sat there for the last two years and watched what Coach Dixon and his staff did at TCU and I was just in awe at what they accomplished. I am excited that they believe in me to help them take that next step."
Shortly after Cross was fired, he and his family determined that remaining in DFW was not a must for his next job. He was close to accepting the head coaching job at South Dakota, until Dixon called.
Dixon had an opening on his staff after David Patrick accepted the head coaching job at the University of California-Riverside.
Although Dixon and Cross worked about 25 minutes apart at competing schools, the two did not know each other well. They realized their paths crossed in 2000 when Dixon was an assistant at Pitt and Cross was an assistant at UTA, when they both were at Dunbar High at the same time to recruit forwards Jeremis Smith and Steven Thomas.
And Dixon and Cross' programs scrimmaged before the start of this most recent season.
"First of all, to have that kind of record is something I respect," Dixon said of Cross' career record of 225-161 in his 12 seasons at UTA. "Forget the winning percentage or any of that, for a guy to be in one place for as long as he has and have nothing [bad] on his record is pretty incredible to do in college athletics. You can't find anyone to say anything negative about the guy."
Cross was a UTA lifer. He played and earned his marketing degree at UTA, where he earned a 4.0 GPA. His wife, Jennifer, played volleyball at UTA.
"We really were ready to go wherever," Cross said. "I am so fortunate this worked out. This gives me the opportunity to coach and recruit with the best, and against the best. Hopefully I can make [Dixon's] job easier."
And Cross doesn't have to move, either.