College Basketball

Could Crimson Tide Justify Firing Alabama Basketball Coach Nate Oats With His Huge Buyout After Brandon Miller Gun Incident?

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The question doing the rounds in Tuscaloosa is should Nate Oats be allowed to continue coaching the Crimson Tide basketball team? After an incident that saw Brandon Miller at the front and center of a murder case, Oats continued to let Miller play. Additionally, a TSA-like pre-game pat-down was carried out by Miller’s teammates on him shortly after the incident, which Oats allowed to happen. While the team is performing well on the court, these off-court issues are drawing public ire. Should Alabama seek to fire Nate Oats, it could be expensive given he just signed a new six-year deal at the start of February. However, let’s take a look at how the incident unfolded and take a peek at Nate Oats’ buyout.

Oats Says Miller Incident is Simply ‘Wrong Place, Wrong Time’

Alabama college basketball coach Nate Oats is facing calls for his dismissal after revelations emerged that freshman standout Brandon Miller allegedly brought the gun used to kill a woman last month to the shooter. Tuscaloosa police testified during a preliminary hearing that Miller had delivered the gun to Darius Miles on the night of the fatal shooting of Jamea Jonae Harris.

Miles and Michael Lynn Davis now face capital murder charges for the incident. Miller has not been charged with any crime, and Oats has defended the player, calling it a case of being “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

However, DeCarla Cotton, the mother of the victim, criticized Alabama’s decision to allow Miller to play in the team’s next game, scoring 41 points in a win over South Carolina. She called it “unimaginable” that Miller was allowed to continue playing, saying that her daughter’s five-year-old son was the true victim in the case.

Nate Oats’ Huge Buyout Figure

Miller has been projected as a top-five pick in this summer’s NBA draft, and his on-court performances for the Crimson Tide have been instrumental in their strong season so far.

Compounding the issue is a recent incident where Miller was subjected to a pregame pat-down by a teammate that drew criticism from Oats, who called it “not appropriate.” Oats now admits that he should have been more sensitive to how the incident could have been interpreted and has taken responsibility for it.

Despite Oats’ recent six-year, $30 million contract extension, there are now questions over whether Alabama will choose to pay his massive $12 million buyout to fire him without cause. The buyout would decrease over time, with the amount dropping to $10 million next season, $7 million in the 2025-26 season, $1 million in the 2026-27 season, and then to $0 from March 15, 2027-March 14, 2029.  However, fans and the community are more concerned about the immediate fallout from the Brandon Miller incident and Nate Oats’ handling of the situation, rather than the buyout in the coming years.

Should Alabama decide to fire Oats, they would face a significant financial burden, but the seriousness of the incidents involving Miller may be enough to force the university’s hand. The Tuscaloosa community has been deeply affected by the killing of Harris, and there are concerns that the presence of Miller on the court sends the wrong message about Alabama’s priorities.

It remains to be seen what action Alabama will take, but the controversy surrounding Oats and Miller threatens to overshadow what has been an otherwise successful season for the Crimson Tide. As the team prepares for the upcoming NCAA tournament, the focus will be on their performance on the court, but off-court issues continue to linger.

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David Evans is an experienced sports journalist, with over 15 years in the field. His main passions include North Carolina basketball, college football, NFL, soccer, and golf. When he's not writing, David likes to hit the gym and spend time with his cat.

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