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Report: UT receives ‘lurid’ letter prior to Cross’ resignation

By Jason Mack
On March 15, 2010

Gene Cross resigned as the head coach of the UT men's basketball team on Thursday, just three days after Athletic Director Mike O'Brien received an accusatory letter about Cross.

The Independent Collegian submitted a public records request for the letter on Saturday morning that has yet to be fulfilled.

The letter was first reported in Saturday's edition of The Blade. Per the report, Dawn K. Gears, a resident of Ottawa Hills, claimed an affair with the single Cross, who she dated for eight months before he cheated on her. She also said several other women talked with her about their relationships with Cross, who called the allegations "categorically untrue."

Gears alleged Cross does not promote the physical and mental well-being and safety of others, and according to The Blade article Gears said, "If you feel the need to look further into this matter, perhaps you should question Gene about his ‘shenanigans' with the women of Ottawa Hills as well as in the community at large."

UT Vice President of External Affairs Larry Burns told The Blade that while such allegations would normally warrant an investigation, "none of this is being investigated on the university side since Gene made the decision to resign."

"This was my decision and nothing else," Cross said in the report. "It's about my wanting to go out and continue to coach the game of basketball. It's not about the money for me. I chose to resign based on those factors."

Cross had over $700,000 remaining on a five-year contract, but instead will only be paid his base salary through August 1 after resigning.

O'Brien insists the decision to resign was made solely by Cross, but he told The Blade that after reading the letter he was "obviously incredibly disappointed."

Assistant coach Bob Sundvold is serving as the interim head coach. He and the other assistants are under 90-day contracts after the resignation while O'Brien looks for a new head coach. In a press conference last night, Sundvold expressed interest in the position.

"I've kind of seen everything, so I would love to have a chance here," Sundvold said. "You wear the big boy pants and you figure out how this all goes. They'll go about the process to get a new coach in this program. Mike's got a job and he's going to have to find the right person for this. You dust your resume off and you try to get a spot somewhere, and if something happens here that you can stay, you get to evaluate this also. I'd love to [be considered]."

Sundvold had a brief conversation with Cross on Friday.

"I was shocked," Sundvold said. "We're still [shocked] as a staff and a group of players. They were looking forward to coming back from spring break."

"When you make a commitment for something, it's what you're saying," freshman guard Jake Barnett said. "It's your word. A lot of times things happen, and that's the way this business is."

Barnett and junior forward Justin Anyijong said in last night's press conference that they have not spoke with Cross since before his resignation. They were notified of his decision on Thursday with a phone call from Brad Konerman, UT's Director of Operations. The players said they are committed to Toledo and will not look to transfer.

Look to upcoming issues of the IC for more information on Cross's resignation.

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