After University at Buffalo athletic director Allen Greene left for Auburn last week, men's basketball coach Nate Oats sat down with school president Satish Tripathi to talk about the future.
Oats was given an extension in May 2016 that keeps him under contract through the 2020-21 season. But if his Bulls keep beating up on Mid-American Conference opponents at their current pace, Oats could be a candidate for bigger jobs in the near future.
That might mean one of the first orders of business for the school's new athletic director will be locking Oats down with a richer contract.
Oats was asked about that idea Tuesday after UB's 83-69 victory over Eastern Michigan, which lifted the Bulls to 7-0 in the conference for the first time ever. UB pays him $355,500, which is believed to be in the middle of the pack in the conference. Oats said he wants to stay in Buffalo and feels that Tripathi is "all on board, all supportive," but added that it would be nice to take care of his contract "before all the jobs start popping up after the season."
"We love it here," Oats said. "I loved working for Allen but we’ve got a great administration that’s still here. My family loves it here.
"We have really everybody but Wes (Clark, a senior) back next year. I want to be here next year," Oats continued. "I don’t plan on going anywhere. It’d be great if they gave me a contract extension. We’d stay here in the area and build this thing up. We’ve got maybe the best recruiting class – I mean, it’s hard to rank it … our recruiting class is really good. So I think we’ve got a chance to be better next year than we are this year. I mean, we should be. Wes is an unbelievable player but, I mean, we’ve got a couple point guards coming in, Davonta (Jordan) and Dontay (Caruthers) will be another year older. So I don’t want to leave. We’ll figure it out.
"I’ve talked to President Tripathi already, I talked to him like the next day. He’s all on board, all supportive. So obviously, I don’t know how long it’ll take to hire an AD, but you know, hopefully whoever the interim is can get something done before all the jobs start popping up after the season. I’d like to have something in place to make sure I’m here. I mean, honestly, this is the best group of guys I’ve ever coached in my life. I’d love to keep coaching them. That’s the plan. I don’t want to go anywhere."
Tuesday's win lifted the Bulls to 15-5 overall and kept them perfect in the MAC while extending their winning streak to eight games. They entered Tuesday ranked 28th in the RPI and could get into conversation for an at-large bid to Oats' second NCAA Tournament with a strong finish in conference play. Their last seven wins have come by 10 points or more, which a UB team hasn't accomplished since 1964-65, before they were Division I.
Tuesday's win even featured a ridiculous 26-0 run in the first half that blew the game wide open. Still, Oats wanted more.
"The way we ended the first half was unbelievable," Oats said, "maybe as good as we've played all year. I thought we started the second half pretty good, the first couple minutes, and then it went downhill from there.
"We gotta grow up a little bit. We can't do that," Oats said of letting EMU cut the lead to 10 points in the second half. "I still don't feel like we've gotten two great halves out of this group yet this year. We'll keep working."
Story topics: Nate Oats