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Western Michigan head men’s basketball coach Clayton Bates steps down after two seasons

WMU suffered some of the worst basketball performances in recent memory under Bates, who took over for local legend Steven Hawkins in 2020.

NCAA Basketball: Western Michigan at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Clayton Bates, appointed as Western Michigan head basketball coach in 2020, has stepped down after two seasons, per the university on Monday afternoon.

Bates went 11-39 in his two seasons on the bench after taking over for predecessor Steve Hawkins, who had led the Broncos to two NCAA Tournament appearances over 17 seasons. Bates was the assistant head coach under Hawkins prior to his being hired as Hawkins’ eventual replacement.

“Coach Bates has been a stabilizing and loyal member of the Bronco basketball family over several years,” said Western Michigan athletic director Dan Bartholomae. “He has been a great teammate during my first two months on campus and is a genuine leader who is student-athlete centered. However, in assessing our performance in recent years, we agreed a change in leadership is necessary to elevate this program towards a level of comprehensive excellence that includes competing at the highest levels of the MAC. We thank Clayton and his family and wish all the best in their future endeavors. The young men in our men’s basketball program are fantastic and we will continue to support them as we look for a new leader of our program.”

The transaction comes after Bates led the Broncos to a paltry 5-23 (4-16 MAC) campaign in 2021-22, with an especially brutal early-season loss to Division II Saginaw Valley State as a low-light moment. The team also struggled to put away NAIA Aquinas University at home in the homestretch of the non-conference season, narrowly escaping with a six-point victory.

The next search for a head coach will begin effective immediately, with Glenn Sugiyama, of DHR Global Sports Practice, set to lead the search for WMU. The coaching search will be the first for Bartholomae as an athletic director; he took over for the now-retired Kathy Beauregard mid-season in 2021 after previously holding a job as Oregon State’s executive deputy athletic director and chief operating officer.