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Crimson Tide Sews Nate Oats

"He is exactly what we were looking for in this search"

March 27, 2019 - 4:32 pm

Tuscaloosa, Ala (WBEN) - Alabama has hired Nate Oats, who led Buffalo to three NCAA Tournaments in four seasons, as its new men's basketball coach.

Crimson Tide athletic director Greg Byrne announced the hiring Wednesday, three days after parting ways with Avery Johnson.

Oats was the Mid-American Conference coach of the year each of the past two seasons.

He went 96-43 with the Bulls and won three MAC Tournament championships.

Buffalo won first-round games in each of the past two NCAA Tournaments. The Bulls are coming off a 32-4 season that included repeat MAC regular season and tournament championships.

Buffalo also spent 20 weeks in the Associated Press Top 25 for the program's first national ranking.

Johnson, a former NBA head coach and player, went 75-62 in four seasons with one NCAA Tournament berth.

"We are thrilled to welcome Nate and Crystal Oats and their three daughters to The University of Alabama," said Byrne. "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 comes to Alabama after spending the last four seasons at the University at Buffalo. While there, he led the Bulls to a 96-43 (.691) record, three MAC Tournament Championships and three NCAA Tournament appearances, including reaching the round of 32 in each of the last two seasons. As a result, he was named the league's Coach of The Year and National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District 14 Coach of the Year in back-to-back seasons (2018 and 2019).

UB Athletic Director Mark Alnutt released the following statement:  "I wish Nate the very best and we're thankful for everything he has done to elevate our men's basketball program," said Alnutt.  "An opportunity like this is life changing for Nate and his family. Thanks to Nate and the team's success, the Buffalo coaching position will be extremely attractive and a national search is already underway. It will be conducted as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.  We wish Nate and his family all the best."

"I want to thank the UB administration for helping us elevate Buffalo into one of the premier mid-major programs in the country," said Oats. "The support we have received from the Western New York community during the good times and the bad times has been nothing short of amazing. This community has made Buffalo feel like home for Crystal and my family over the last six years."

Alnutt has announced that associate head coach Jim Whitesell will serve as interim head coach during the search.

"Coach Oats has an impressive background," said University of Alabama President Dr. Stuart Bell. "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."

This past year, Oats guided Buffalo to a 32-4 overall record and a 16-2 mark in conference play, leading the program to its second consecutive MAC regular season and tournament championships. The Bulls were ranked for 20 weeks in the Associated Press Top-25 throughout the 2019 season, which marked the first time in school history the program had earned a national ranking. Buffalo went on to climb as high as No. 14 in the nation which was the highest ranking by any MAC team in past 40 years. Additionally, the 32 victories not only set a program record, but was the most wins ever by any Mid-American men's basketball program.

During the 2017-18 season, Oats led the Bulls to a record of 27-9 overall and 15-3 in the MAC. In doing so, he secured the Buffalo's first ever victory in the NCAA Tournament, defeating No. 4 seed and PAC-12 Champion Arizona, 89-68, in Boise, ID.  

Over the last two seasons, Buffalo finished with a combined record of 59-13 (.819), a pair of MAC Tournament and regular season championships, two NCAA Tournament Round of 32 appearances and consecutive MAC Coach of the Year honors.

Oats was named head coach of the UB men's program on April 11, 2015 after spending two seasons as the top assistant and recruiting coordinator for the Bulls. He comes to Buffalo from Romulus High School in Michigan, where he taught and coached one of the top high school basketball programs in the region. 

In his two seasons as an assistant coach under Bobby Hurley, Oats helped lead the Bulls to a 42-20 record, back-to-back MAC East Titles, a MAC Regular Season Title, a MAC Tournament Title and UB's first ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.  Oats was also responsible for recruiting Justin Moss, the 2014-15 MAC Player of the Year.

Prior to joining the Bulls, Oats completed 11 seasons as head coach at Romulus High School in Michigan, winning the school's first state title in 27 years in 2012-13 and finished the season 27-1. He was named the 2013 Detroit News State Coach of the Year, the Detroit Free Press State Coach of the Year, and BCAM State Coach of the Year.

Prior honors include 2009 Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Class A Coach of the Year, the 2008 Detroit Free Press Metro Detroit Coach of the Year, and the 2005 Detroit News Metro Detroit Coach of the Year & Detroit Free Press Metro West Coach of the Year.

In his time as head coach, he led the team to a 222-52 overall record and seven straight conference championships while going undefeated in conference play in the past four consecutive seasons. The team was ranked in the top 25 nationally on three different occasions (2010, 2011, 2013) and made the Michigan Class A Final Four five times. More importantly, he oversaw a program that had a 100 percent graduation rate and 40 of his 42 seniors at Romulus continuing on to college. 

Before coaching at Romulus, he played college basketball at Maranatha Baptist University in Wisconsin where was a captain and All-Conference performer, while earning his bachelor's degree in Math Education.  Oats went on to become an assistant coach at Maranatha from 1997 to 2000. After that, he moved on to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater from 2000-02.

Nate and his wife Crystal are the proud parents of three girls – Lexie, Jocelyn and Brielle.

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