Cleveland State Men’s Basketball Head Coach Dennis Gates has announced the addition of Matt Cline to the team’s coaching staff, joining the Vikings as Special Assistant to the Head Coach. Cline replaces Dickey Nutt who accepted a position as Gaston College’s head men’s basketball coach.
“I’m thrilled to welcome Matt Cline to our coaching staff,” said back-to-back Horizon League Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year Dennis Gates. “Coach Cline brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our program, having coached, and been successful, at both the Division I and JUCO levels. He’s one of the hardest working individuals in our profession and I’m looking forward to seeing the impact he has on our young men both on and off the court.”
Cline comes to Cleveland State following a four-year stint as an assistant coach on Rob Murphy’s staff at Eastern Michigan University. In his first season as an assistant coach, the Eagles finished with 22 wins, including an appearance in the CBI. During the shortened 2020-21 campaign, Cline’s EMU team ranked 13th in the NCAA in steals per game, recording 8.8 swipes per contest. The newest member of the Vikings coaching staff was named one of the “50 Impactful Mid-Major Assistants” by Silver Waves Media in 2020.
The Binghamton, New York, native served as Eastern Michigan University’s director of basketball operations from 2014-16, coordinating the team’s travel, budget, community service programs and other operational duties.
“My wife Rebekah and I are thrilled to join Coach Gates, his staff, and the entire Cleveland State community,” said Matt Cline. “I have the upmost respect for Coach Gates and I am beyond grateful for this opportunity. I will work relentlessly to continue the success of the program and build upon the championship culture that has been set in the classroom, on the court and in the Cleveland community. I am looking forward to the daily process of fostering relationships with the student-athletes, athletic department, and the entire Cleveland State family.”
Prior to his latest stop in Ypsilanti, Cline served as Steve Forbes’ director of basketball operations at East Tennessee State University during the 2016-17 season. With Cline as the director of basketball operations, ETSU had one of its most successful seasons in program history, finishing with a 27-8 overall record, including a Southern Conference regular season and tournament championship, and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Cline received his first coaching opportunity as a member of Steve Forbes’ staff, whom he also worked for at ETSU, as an assistant coach at Northwest Florida State College during the 2013-14 season. He helped guide the Raiders to a 22-6 record, which included reaching the top overall ranking in the NJCAA.
From 2011-13 Cline served as a graduate assistant for Leonard Hamilton at Florida State, receiving his master’s in sports management with magna cum laude honors. In his first season as a Seminole, FSU won the program’s first-ever ACC tournament championship, earning a No. 3-seed in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
Cline graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education, garnering cum laude ranks. The newest Viking served as USA’s head manager from 2007-11 before earning a spot on Ronnie Arrow’s roster his senior season.
Since the 2018 offseason, Cline has been invited annually to participate in TopConnect. This college basketball networking event provides a platform for up-and-coming assistant coaches and athletic directors from around the country to learn from one another and help prepare the assistants to become future head coaches.
Outside of coaching, Cline co-founded “The Manager Connection” program in conjunction with “Grow the Game” during the summer of 2020. “The Manager Connection” program aims to pair current student-managers once a month with former student-managers that now have successful careers in college or professional athletics.
Cline has also interned with a pair of player development programs, BX Player Development group in New York, as well as Attack Athletics in Chicago, Illinois. Additionally, he’s volunteered with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program since 2012.