Cleveland State dismisses basketball staff

By Ben Hercik

After two years on the job and a 22-44 overall record, Dennis Felton and the entire men’s basketball coaching staff have been let go from the Cleveland State University program. 

“We take our mission to provide CSU student-athletes with a transformational experience very seriously,” Athletic Director Scott Garrett said in an email sent out on July 12. “Our coaches operate with the expectation that they should build a culture supportive of our student-athletes in the classroom, accountable for their conduct as representatives of the University, and for their performance on the court. We will seek a new leader for our program who can deliver on this commitment.”

The firing comes after news of athletes choosing to transfer out of the program rather than to return next season. Sophomore guard Rashad Williams has transferred to Oakland University, and junior guard Tyree Appleby — who made history last year by becoming the Vikings’ first-ever player to score a triple double in school history — is also transferring away from the school.

Under Felton, the Vikings had an in-conference record of 11-25, and failed to qualify for the conference tournament last season. During the 2017-18 season, Felton and the Vikings qualified for the Horizon League Tournament as the eighth seed with a 12-23 overall record and a 6-12 record against the Horizon League. 

The team would beat Youngstown State University 72-71 in the first round to reach the quarterfinals, where they would upset the number one seeded North Kentucky University 89-80 to reach the conference semifinals. They would pull yet another upset as they beat the fourth seeded Oakland 44-43 to reach the conference finals, with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line. The Cinderella run would end there as the Vikings fell to Wright State University 74-57.

The Vikings have not been to a postseason tournament since 2015 when they accepted a berth to the Invitational Tournament, where they advanced to the second round. The team has not qualified for the NCAA Tournament since 2009. No interim or new head coach has been named at this time.