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Massimino resigns at Cleveland State

CLEVELAND, March 15 (UPI) -- Rollie Massimino, who won a national championship at Villanova, has resigned as basketball coach at Cleveland State.

In seven years, he never could come close to generating a winning program at the Horizon League school, and had an overall losing record.

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This season, the Vikings went just 8-22, and ended the season with a 69-57 loss to Loyola (Chicago) University in the first round of the conference tournament.

Word about Massimino's resignation came Saturday morning in an article in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, which said it was told by his wife, Mary Jane, that the 68-year-old coach was vacationing in Florida.

He did not return a phone call from the paper, but did issue a prepared statement.

"I have reached a point in my life where I want to spend more time with my wife and family," Massimino said. "Cleveland State has been very good to us, and I have made many new friendships during my time in Cleveland. I'm sure [CSU] will be able to move ahead with all of its goals for the men's basketball program."

It was hoped Massimino could build a winning tradition at CSU, but he suffered the first 20-loss season of his 30-year coaching career this season. The Vikings lost six straight games and 13 of their last 14 to end the campaign.

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Massimino had a magical moment in 1985, when led by Gary McLain and Ed Pickney, his Villanova Wildcats shocked heavily-favored Georgetown, 66-64, in the NCAA championship game.

For his career, Massimino was 515-391, and his 20-10 mark in NCAA Tournament games ranks as the eighth best winning percentage for coaches with 10 games.

In 19 seasons at Villanova, he posted a record of 335-241, guiding the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament 11 times and the NIT four times. He had eight 20-win seasons at Villanova before leaving in 1992.

Atheltic Director Lee Reed was sorry to see Massimino go.

"It is always difficult when an individual as accomplished as Rollie leaves a university's athletic program," Reed told the paper. "There will truly be a void until we can find his successor. Rollie is a fine individual who has had a stellar reputation as a coach and more importantly as a mentor to student-athletes. Rollie is truly a Hall of Fame-caliber coach, and we sincerely appreciate his efforts over the past seven years. He will be missed."

Reed told the paper that a financial settlement has been reached on the final two years of Massimino's contract. The coach was paid $147,691 for the 2002-03 season.

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While at Cleveland State, his overall record was 90-113. His career included two years at Nevada-Las Vegas, where he was 35-21. He went to Cleveland State in 1996 after a two-year absence.

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