Scott Cross made his first appearance as a TCU assistant basketball coach and he was already decked out in the requisite purple, including a spiffy new TCU band for his iWatch.
"I was happy to get the purple on," said Cross, who spent the past 22 years at UT Arlington as a player, an assistant coach and head coach since 2006.
TCU head coach Jamie Dixon, who is entering his third season at his alma mater, had an opening on his staff after assistant David Patrick took a head coaching job at UC Riverside. When Cross and his staff were dismissed by UTA, it made perfect sense to Dixon.
"I met with him three days in a row," Dixon said. "It was an obvious fit. We want to be strong in Texas and no one has recruited in Texas longer than he has, especially in this area. He's a great family guy, great track record. He’s not going to be breaking any NCAA rules. He’ll be a great representative of the university. He was just the best person for the job."
The decision was a no-brainer, said Cross, who didn't know Dixon very well. The two coaches had talked a few times, including once to schedule a closed scrimmage between TCU and UTA before last season.
"I’ve been watching him from afar," Cross said. "I’ve admired what he’s done over the years. I’ve watched how the program has changed over the last two years and really been kind of amazed how quickly they turned everything around."
Cross said taking an assistant's job in the area where he and his family, including three young children, have lived since 1995, made more sense than holding out for a potential head coaching job.
"It's a chance to be part of a program that has a chance to win a championship and make some noise in the NCAA tournament," he said. "Things are going in the right direction and it just seemed like the next step and the right move at the time."
And to work under Dixon, 52, who helped build an NCAA tournament regular at Pittsburgh.
"He’s one of the best in the business," Cross said. "His worst year was 19 wins? Who does that? It’s absolutely amazing what he’s done,. His staff is fantastic as well. Hopefully, I can come in and be some value and help them in some areas and help them win a championship."
Cross brings a wealth of connections with Texas high school coaches and had been able to recruit very good players to UTA over the years.
"I think that's one area maybe where I can help them," he said.
He was happy at UTA and appreciated some of the vocal support from Mavericks' fans and boosters when he was fired. He wished his former players well and invited them to come play in pickup games in the TCU practice gym. But he's ready to turn the page.
"This was the good Lord’s way of saying, 'Hey I have bigger and better things for you. You need to grow in certain areas. This gets you out of your comfort zone,'" he said. "I’ll be able to learn from Coach Dixon; learn from the rest of the staff. I guess it was nice that people were supportive but the main thing is I’m just fired up about this opportunity."