College basketball coaching changes tracker: Western Michigan hires from within, citing COVID-19 crisis

Western Michigan athletic director Kathy Beauregard made it clear in the school’s announcement of its new basketball coach on Saturday that the Broncos are promoting from within because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Clayton Bates, a longtime WMU assistant, will replace his former boss Steve Hawkins.

“I decided to change leadership of our program days before the COVID-19 crisis emerged,” Beauregard said. “A comprehensive national search in this time of anxiety, despite exceedingly strong national interest in the position, just didn’t sit well with me.”

Hawkins went 291-262 with a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances in his 17-year run, and Bates was part of the program for most of that time. But the Broncos posted sub .500 records the past two seasons, and Beauregard announced on March 11 that Hawkins would not return for the 2020-21 season.

The COVID-19 crisis has intensified in the time since that announcement, and as schools from major conferences shy away from making coaching changes amid financial concerns, Western Michigan touted the cost savings of promoting Bates in its announcement of his promotion over the weekend.

“Bronco athletics will spend approximately $165,000 less on the head coach position in the coming season,” the university announcement said.

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