Story by Collin Morris, Assistant Sports Editor
While classes halted for winter break, the Murray State women’s basketball season and the illustrious career of seasoned Head Coach Rob Cross continued.
On Wednesday, Dec. 21, Cross earned an unprecedented achievement as his team’s 80-62 win over Mississippi Valley State catapulted him onto the list of winningest coaches in OVC sports history.
Cross, who succeeded Head Coach Jody Adams in 2008, has compiled 117 total wins throughout his nine-year career with the Racers, placing him just above conference rival and former Austin Peay State Head Coach Susie Gardner.
“There are three coaches in the OVC in the top 10 in career wins right now that are active and the other two are Larry Joe Inman and Kevin McMillan,” Cross said. “So to be in the same group with those two people and the person I passed being an old friend in Susie Gardner at Austin Peay who was in the 10 spot – that means a lot to be mentioned with those types of names but it’s more about what our student athletes have achieved.”
The achievement will be added to Cross’ extensive resumé, as he is also one of only two OVC Coach of the Year recipients to have coached the Murray State women’s basketball team, as well as the only coach to have led the team to an OVC Regular Season Title with their 16-2 season, both of which came in his rookie season as a head coach.
Cross is also the winningest coach in Murray State’s history and also currently holds the record for the longest home winning streak for his 21-straight wins in the 2008 season, as well as the longest outright winning streak with 11-straight games in the 2009 season.
Of all his accomplishments, however, Cross says he prides himself most on the academic success of his teams.
“It’s something that means a lot to me because it means I’ve been able to stick around and help our student athletes get their degrees,” Cross said. “I’m more proud of the fact that our graduation rate is almost 100 percent since I’ve been here than I am of [moving into the top 10].”
In 2009, Cross also coached the first and only Racer to earn the ESPN The Magazine: Academic All-American of the Year award, which is only one of his many achievements on the academic front. Cross has an extensive history of players earning similar awards and sending more than 50 percent of his players to the Dean’s List.
Teams coached by Cross also have an average grade point average of 3.0.
Cross hopes to extend his record even further toward the no. 9 spot at 4 p.m. this Saturday, Jan. 21 in Cookeville, Tennessee, as the Racers will look to earn points for the Battle of the Border rivalry against Austin Peay.