The University at Buffalo has opened talks on another contract extension with men’s basketball coach Nate Oats, a move designed to tie him a little tighter to the job as his national profile increases.
Oats told The News via text Monday afternoon that his agent has begun talks with UB athletic director Mark Alnutt on an extension.
Oats received a five-year extension a year ago, during the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
The contract, which runs through the 2023 season, pays Oats a base salary of $600,000, believed to be near the top of the conference. (Akron coach John Groce has a $650,000 base salary.) Oats has other bonuses built into his deal. A $50,000 bonus kicked in when UB clinched the MAC regular-season title last week.
However, all power-conference coaches make significantly more money. The median salary of a Big 10 Conference men’s basketball coach is about $2.5 million.
UB is 28-3 and ranked 18th in the Associated Press Top 25 poll entering the MAC Tournament this week. Oats’ record is 92-42 in four seasons at UB.
Oats on Monday was among 11 semifinalists announced for the national Naismith College Coach of the Year Award.
“I’m focused on the games we have to play the next several weeks,” Oats told The News via text. “We want to be here. So hopefully we can make something happen.”
“Obviously we’re looking to put our best foot forward,” Altnutt said. “And we want to come up with an offer where he feels appreciated and also understands that we’re committed to continuing the success in building this program.”
UB will lose five seniors, including its top three scorers, to graduation at the end of this season.
However, the Bulls' cupboard still will be stocked for next season. UB has two transfers – Antwain Johnson from Middle Tennessee State and Gabe Grant from Houston – sitting out who will help fill the experience void.
And Oats and his staff are assembling another highly rated recruiting class that could again be rated the best in the MAC. The Bulls have commitments from three junior college recruits, including highly touted 6-foot-9-inch forward Andre Allen from Arizona Western College.
“When you look at the future, I feel very confident that while we’re losing a great group of seniors, he’s approaching next year just like he has in the past,” Altnutt said. “We’re all looking to continue to build on the positive momentum that we have.”
Currently, if Oats were to be lured away by a bigger basketball program after this season, that school would have to pay a $500,000 buyout to UB.
Presumably, any contract extension talks with UB would involve increasing the buyout totals built into the deal. Illinois, for instance, paid $3 million to Oklahoma State in 2017 to cover the buyout of coach Brad Underwood.