COVID-19 keeps WMU coach search local; Clayton Bates picked

Sports

An undated courtesy photo of Western Michigan University men’s basketball head coach Clayton Bates. (WMU)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Western Michigan University kept its search for a men’s basketball head coach local in the face of the pandemic, picking one of their own to lead the team.

Associate head coach Clayton Bates will become the 14th head coach to lead the broncos. WMU Director of Athletics Kathy Beauregard says Bates has already built relationships with the players and experience playing and coaching.

“I decided to change leadership of our program days before the COVID-19 crisis emerged. A comprehensive national search in this time of anxiety, despite exceedingly strong national interest in the position, just didn’t sit well with me,” WMU Director of Athletics Kathy Beauregard stated in a Saturday news release. “Our student athletes, and the whole program, is fortunate, in this difficult time, to have a strong leadership in Clayton Bates, a 20-year veteran of the program. I know that Coach Bates will do an excellent job leading these young men during the 2020-21 season.”

WMU suspended hiring new employees from outside the university as part of social distancing protocol aimed at protecting the health of its campus community.

Under Bates’ new contract, his salary will rise from $110,000 to $120,000, with an additional $100,000 for multimedia rights and speaking opportunities. That’s $165,000 less than what head coach Steve Hawkins was making when he retired earlier this month, according to the university.

WMU plans to keep assistant coach Thomas Kelley and basketball operations director Jake Bullock for the next season. The school said assistant coach Glen Heffernan will not return when his contract expires on April 30.

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