Cleveland State on Friday announced the hiring of Florida State assistant Dennis Gates as the Vikings’ new head men’s basketball coach. Gates is a Chicago-native who played at Cal and has been on Leonard Hamilton‘s staff at FSU since 2011.
“After carefully evaluating an impressive pool of interested candidates,” AD Scott Garrett said, “Dennis Gates rose to the top and won this position with his thoughtful plan for transforming the lives of CSU men’s basketball student-athletes, regaining our competitive position in the Horizon League and building a program that is representative of all of the incredible momentum occurring on the campus of Cleveland State University.”
This is the first head coaching role for Gates, who has been in Division I basketball for more than two decades already. He was a key recruiter for Hamilton’s program, helping land a number of top prospects for the Seminoles, including NBA draftees Jonathan Isaac, Dwayne Bacon and Terence Mann.
“I have dreamed for a long time about serving as a head coach and am humbled and honored to be trusted with this opportunity,” Gates said in a statement. “I am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and working with our student-athletes to win championships in the classroom, on the court and in the community.”
Gates is inheriting a full rebuild at CSU, as a number of players have jettisoned from the program since the end of last season. His predecessor, Dennis Felton, was let go earlier this month after just two seasons at the helm (22-44 overall). The lack of success on the court bred contempt among fans, as the program posted its two lowest attendance averages in the nearly 30-year history of the Wolstein Center.
The basketball rebuild is part of a larger overhaul at Cleveland State. Garrett has been the AD for barely four months and has already had to hire four new Viking head coaches. The school is in buyout negotiations with Felton, who is technically owed the remaining $900K on his five-year deal.
UPDATE 7/30: Gates received a five-year deal with his salary ranging from $280K-$300K per season and a variety of additional performance incentives – both on and off the court – built in.
credit to Perrone Ford/PTFPHOTO/FSU Athletics for the photo