March 13, 2008
Contact: Brian McCann
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Gary Waters, who in the last two seasons at Cleveland State has orchestrated one of the most dramatic turnarounds in NCAA Basketball history, has been named as one of 10 finalists for the inaugural Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award.
The award, named to honor the former Wake Forest and Xavier head coach who passed away suddenly last summer, will be presented annually to the Division I head coach who best represent the high standards of the coaching profession. Winning with integrity.
The 10 finalists were selected from a group of 20 semi-finalists compiled by the selection panel. The 10 finalists include Mike Brey (Notre Dame), Rick Byrd (Belmont), Seth Greenberg (Virginia Tech), Frank Haith (Miami), Trent Johnson (Stanford), Bob McKillop (Davidson), Sean Miller (Xavier), Matt Painter (Purdue), Bo Ryan (Wisconsin) and Waters.
"Skip was a good friend of mine and to be considered for any award that bears his name is truly an honor," Waters said. "Skip was a man of conviction, one who put education before basketball and did things the right way. He has truly been missed this year."
Waters receives the honor for what he has accomplished, both on and off the basketball court.
After compiling a 10-21 record in his first year at CSU, Waters earned Horizon League Co-Coach of the Year honors this season after helping the Vikings to 21-12 record. After being picked to finish ninth in the 10-team Horizon League, CSU finished second in the regular season with a school-record 12 league wins, and advanced to the Horizon League Championship game for the first time in school history.
The Vikings became one of a handful of teams to go from 20 losses in one season to 20 wins the next, a feat accomplished by just one other team in Horizon League history.
Off the court is where Waters stands out among his peers.
Taking over a program that had enjoyed very little success, Waters immediately embarked on teaching the Vikings how to win. He taught a weekly "Success" class for the team, using legendary head coach John Wooden's "Pyramid of Success" as the text. He had the Viking players put together their own pyramid, identifying the traits and characteristics that a team needs to become a winner.
Waters took the class one step further this past season, using John Maxwell's book, "Talent Is Never Enough" to help the Vikings take the next step towards success.
Always a teacher, on Martin Luther King Day this past February, Waters demanded that each player on the team write a paper to explain how the civil rights leader had an affect on their lives. A planned team trip to Spain in August will be preceded by a class in Spanish history so that the players can appreciate the history of the sites that they will see.
The Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award, which was established by CollegeInsider.com and the Prosser family, will be presented at the 2008 Final Four in San Antonio.