Alabama has named Nate Oats as its next men’s basketball coach. The school announced the hiring in a news release on Wednesday afternoon.
Oats arrives at Alabama after spending the last four seasons as head coach at Buffalo, where he made the NCAA tournament three times. The Bulls advanced to the round of 32 in both the 2018 and 2019 tournaments.
“We are thrilled to welcome Nate and Crystal Oats and their three daughters to The University of Alabama,” athletics director Greg Byrne said in the release. “I have been watching Coach Oats for the last few years as he has led the University at Buffalo to unprecedented heights. His commitment to developing the student-athlete both on and off the court was what really stuck out. As we spoke to some of the best college and pro basketball minds in the country, his name came up time and time again. Coach Oats will hit the ground running starting tonight, and we look forward to him having a long and successful career with the Alabama Crimson Tide.”
Oats, who is 44 years old, had been an assistant at Buffalo for two years before being named head coach. He was head coach at Romulus High School in Michigan for more than a decade before that.
Buffalo went 16-2 in conference play to win the MAC regular season championship in 2018-19 and won the conference with a 15-3 record in 2017-18. He was named the conference coach of the year both seasons. Buffalo, which has fielded a basketball team since 1915, has four all-time appearances in the NCAA tournament; Oats was head coach for three of them and an assistant coach under Bobby Hurley during the fourth.
He was 97-43 overall in four seasons at Buffalo, including a 59-13 record in the last two seasons. Buffalo upset Arizona in the opening round of the 2018 NCAA tournament. The Bulls were a six seed in this year’s tournament, beating Arizona State in the opening round.
“Coach Oats has an impressive background,” University of Alabama President Dr. Stuart Bell said. “He is exactly what we were looking for in this search. I’m excited about the future of Alabama basketball, and I know our fans are as well.”
Oats had agreed to a contract extension at Buffalo on March 14 that was to run through the end of the 2023-24 season. Buffalo was due to pay him $837,000 annually, the highest number for a coach in the MAC.
“I can concentrate on coaching games,” Oats said at the time, according to the Buffalo News. “I don’t have to worry about the rest of things. I tell (my agent), ‘Just tell everybody, no thanks, unless it’s something unreal.’”
That was before Alabama decided to negotiate a buyout with former head coach Avery Johnson. Byrne moved quickly with the hire, announcing Oats as the new head coach just three days after announcing the program would part ways with Johnson. Oats was hired two days after Byrne held a press conference to discuss the decision.
Johnson went 75-62 in four seasons at Alabama, including 34-38 in the SEC. The Crimson Tide made the 2018 NCAA tournament but struggled late during the regular season in each of his final two years.
Four players — John Petty, Daniel Giddens, Kira Lewis and Dazon Ingram — from the 2018-19 roster with eligibility remaining have chosen to enter the NCAA transfer portal since the season ended. If all four choose to leave the program, that could leave Alabama with six returning scholarship players, only four of which played during the 2018-19 season.
This story will be updated.
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