Oats coaching Buffalo in 2019
|Born||October 13, 1974|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1997–2000||Maranatha Baptist (assistant)|
|Head coaching record|
|Overall||103–48 (.682) (college)|
222–52 (.810) (high school)
|Accomplishments and honors|
|3 MAC Tournament (2016, 2018, 2019)|
2 MAC regular season (2018, 2019)
2 MAC East Division (2018, 2019)
|2× MAC Coach of the Year (2018, 2019)|
Education and playing career
Oats grew up in Watertown, Wisconsin where he was a three-year starter on the Maranatha Academy high school basketball team which went 24–0 in his senior year. He stayed in Watertown after high school, playing college basketball at Division-III Maranatha Baptist University. He was an all-conference player and served as a captain of the Crusaders while earning a Bachelor’s degree in Math Education. He subsequently received a Master of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in kinesiology and exercise science.
After finishing his playing career at Maranatha Baptist, Oats became a member of the team's coaching staff in 1997, where he remained until 2000. He then served as an assistant men's basketball coach for the Division-III University of Wisconsin–Whitewater. After the 2002 season, Oats left Wisconsin–Whitewater to become the head basketball coach and a teacher at Romulus High School near Detroit.
Over 11 years at Romulus, Oats accumulated a 222–52 record and reached the semifinals of the state tournament five times. In 2013, Oats led the team to a 27–1 record and a state Class A championship en route to winning multiple coach of the year honors from the local press. He won similar coaching awards in 2005, 2008 and 2009.
While recruiting Romulus guard E. C. Matthews on behalf of Rhode Island in 2013, Bobby Hurley was impressed by Oats' coaching. Shortly thereafter, Hurley was named the head coach at Buffalo and hired Oats as an assistant on his staff.
During his two-year tenure as an assistant, Buffalo had a 42–20 record, won their first Mid-American Conference Tournament and made their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance. As an assistant at Buffalo, Oats was credited with recruiting Justin Moss, who would go on to win the 2014–15 MAC Player of the year award.
On April 9, 2015, the same day that Bobby Hurley announced that he would be leaving Buffalo to take the head coaching job at Arizona State, Oats was named the interim head coach at Buffalo. During the days immediately after Hurley announced his departure, Buffalo's athletic director at the time, Danny White, interviewed the team's players, all of whom advocated for Oats becoming the permanent head coach. Also, Hurley told White that he would hire Oats at Arizona State if White didn't hire him permanently. In a 2019 ESPN story on Oats, White recalled, "What stood out is the connections he had with our players. His reputation as a high school coach -- most people I asked said he ran it like a Division I college program. Players had a strong relationship with him." On April 13, Oats was officially given the head coaching job; his base salary was $250,000. The Buffalo roster for his first season as a head coach featured two former Romulus players: Christian Pino and Raheem Johnson.
In Oats' first season as head coach of Buffalo, he led the Bulls to a 3rd place tie in the Mid-American Conference standings. In the MAC Tournament, Buffalo defeated Miami University, Ohio, and then top-seeded Akron to claim the 2016 conference tournament championship. This has been regarded as an impressive feat due to the offseason turnaround that Oats faced. 2015 MAC Player of the Year Justin Moss was dismissed from the University and second-leading scorer Shannon Evans transferred to Arizona State to play for the then-departed Bobby Hurley. On May 18, 2016, Buffalo Athletic Director Allen Greene announced that the school had agreed on a new five-year contract with Oats.
In Oats' third season, 2017–18, the Bulls began conference play with eight straight wins, the best conference start in team history. The Bulls finished the 2017–18 MAC schedule with a 15–3 record, and Oats was named MAC coach of the year as the Bulls won outright the conference regular season for the first time in team history. The Bulls went on to win the 2018 MAC tournament. On March 8, 2018, Oats signed a contract extension with the University at Buffalo to remain head basketball coach through 2023. Oats' Buffalo Bulls went on to the 2018 NCAA Tournament seeded 13th in the South Region where they convincingly beat the favored 4th seed Arizona Wildcats 89–68.
Oats briefly described his coaching philosophy in the aforementioned 2019 ESPN story, saying, "We did a culture playbook two summers ago and our three main beliefs — core values, we call them — are max effort, continuous growth and selfless love." Since taking over as Buffalo head coach, Oats added what the story called "a blue-collar element to his program that reflects Buffalo itself" — the coaching staff charts what it calls "blue-collar points", defined as any play that contributes to a win but is not recorded in a traditional box score, with examples including but not limited to pass deflections and taking charges. The player with the most such points in a given game receives a construction helmet.
During the 2018-19 regular season, Oats led the Bulls to a 28-3 record and was named 2019 MAC Coach of the Year. On March 14, 2019, Oats signed a contract extension with the University at Buffalo to remain head basketball coach through the 2024 season.
Oats and his wife Crystal have three daughters, Lexie, Jocie and Brielle. In November 2015, Oats announced on his Facebook page that his wife had an aggressive form of lymphoma and would be undergoing chemotherapy. With his wife's encouragement, he confirmed that he would not be renouncing his coaching duties.
Head coaching record
|Buffalo Bulls (Mid-American Conference) (2015–2019)|
|2015–16||Buffalo||20–15||10–8||T–3rd (East)||NCAA Division I Round of 64|
|2017–18||Buffalo||27–9||15–3||1st (East)||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|2018–19||Buffalo||32–4||16–2||1st (East)||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|Buffalo:||96–43 (.691)||52–20 (.722)|
|Alabama Crimson Tide (Southeastern Conference) (2019–present)|
Postseason invitational champion
Coaches who have served under Oats and became NCAA head coaches:
- "SeeThroughNY :: Payrolls". seethroughny.net. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- Haynes, Quentin (November 13, 2015). "UB head coach Nate Oats is a student of the game". The Spectrum. University at Buffalo. Retrieved 16 March 2016.
- Thamel, Pete (March 14, 2019). "How Nate Oats went from high school math teacher to the country's hottest coach". Yahoo Sports. Archived from the original on March 16, 2019. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
- "Nate Oats bio". Retrieved April 17, 2015.
- Goricki, David (April 16, 2015). "Ex-Romulus coach Oats realizes 'lifelong dream' with Buffalo job". Detroit News. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
- "UB hoops hires Oats as assistant". Buffalo News. June 19, 2013. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
- "Nate Oats Named Interim Head Coach". UBBulls.com. University at Buffalo Athletics. April 9, 2015. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
- Schultz, Jordan (February 19, 2019). "Nate Oats and Buffalo want to do more than ruin your bracket (again)". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on March 2, 2019. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
- Miner, Dan (March 15, 2016). "In the bonus: Weekend buzzer-beaters triggered incentives for UB coaches". Buffalo Business First. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "Buffalo wins second straight MAC title". espn.go.com. March 12, 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
- Riordan, Tim (2015-08-10). "Buffalo's Justin Moss expelled, pending appeal later this month". Retrieved 2016-07-15.
- Riordan, Tim (2015-04-24). "Now that's over: Shannon Evans has committed to Arizona State". Bull Run. Retrieved 2016-07-15.
- "Oats Signs New Five-Year Contract". University at Buffalo. 18 May 2016. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
- "Bulls Improve To 6-0 In League Play With 84-74 Road Win At Western Michigan". University at Buffalo. 19 January 2018. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
- "Nate Oats Named 2018 MAC Coach Of The Year". University at Buffalo. 7 March 2018. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
- "Bulls Defuse Rockets for Third MAC Championship". University at Buffalo. 18 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Oats Signs Extension To Remain Men's Basketball Coach At UB". University at Buffalo. 8 March 2018. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
- "Bulls Manhandle Arizona for First-Ever NCAA Tournament Win". University at Buffalo. 15 March 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Alabama hires Nate Oats as new head coach". SI.com. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
- "Wife of UB coach Nate Oats facing battle with lymphoma". Buffalo News. November 4, 2015. Retrieved 6 November 2015.