Buffalo athletic director Mark Alnutt has confirmed in a statement to Mid-American Conference assistant commissioner/intergrated digital strategies manager Jeremy Guy on Wednesday afternoon that Buffalo men’s basketball head coach Nate Oats has resigned his post to accept the same job at the University of Alabama.
The hire was first reported by Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News.
Oats, who replaced current Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley in 2015, took over the head coaching position after Buffalo’s first NCAA tournament appearance and went on to create one of the most dominant forces in MAC basketball history, accumualting a record of 97-43 overall (52-20 MAC), while winning three MAC championship titles (2016, 2018, 2019), two regular-season titles (2018, 2019) and two division titles (2018, 2019.) In 2019, the Bulls were ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll for all but one week. Oats has also won MAC Coach of the Year honors twice (2018, 2019.)
Prior to his stint at Buffalo, Oats was an assistant under Hurley for two seasons. He was hired from Romulus HS in Detroit, Michigan, after an 11-year stint which saw him go 222-52 with five state semi-final appearances and a state championship in the 5A division, earning five coach of the year awards along the way.
The move comes as a shock to those in the MAC basketball community, as it was only two weeks ago Oats signed an official extension shortly after leading the Bulls to a quarterfinals victory over Akron in the MAC Championship Tournament. The terms of the deal, per The Washington Post, secured Oats’ status as the highest-paid coach in the MAC, with an annual salary of $837,000 until 2024. It was the second consecutive year Oats earned a contract extension as coach of the Bulls.
Oats will replace Avery Johnson, who mutualy agreed to part ways with the university after four seasons at the helm in Tuscaloosa. Johnson went 75-62 (34-38 SEC) during his tenure, with one NCAA Tournament appearance and three NIT appearances. Johnson’s teams finished no higher than tied-for-fifth in the conference.
The Alabama program itself faces a bit of a personnel crisis this offseason, with two players confirmed to be in the transfer portal, and two others said to be exploring the possibility of leaving, per TideSports. If all four leave, Alabama would have just six scholarship players after taking into account graduation, transfer and redshirts.
Alabama will owe the University at Buffalo the reported maximum buyout of $750,000 to attain Oats’ services.