Nicholls head coach Austin Claunch has resigned and taking a position on Nate Oats‘ staff at Alabama. The announcement was made on Tuesday after several weeks of speculation. Claunch went 90-61 in five seasons with the Colonels and won back-to-back Southland titles in 2021 and 2022.
“Austin is one of the hardest working guys in the business,” Oats said in a statement Tuesday. “His work as a head coach at Nicholls was unbelievable with one of the lowest budgets in the country. He has won two out of the last three regular season championships in the Southland Conference and that is a credit to his hard work and his energy. Austin has a bright young mind and will help out our program in many ways. Not only is he a tireless recruiter and will help us with game planning but he is also a great person who will develop great relationships with our players and have a positive impact in our community.”
Claunch is originally from Texas and became one of the youngest D-I head coaches back in 2018 when he took over the Colonels program at just 28 years old. He first arrived in Thibodaux in 2016 and spent two years on Richie Riley‘s staff before getting the main gig. Prior to that, he spent three seasons – one as an assistant – working alongside Riley under Brad Brownell at Clemson.
“I am extremely excited and thankful for the opportunity to join Coach Oats’ staff,” Claunch aid. “Over the past few seasons, Alabama has proven itself to be one of the premier basketball programs not only in the SEC, but also in the country. The max effort, continuous growth and selfless love established here is evident, even from afar, and I look forward to being a part of this team. I am eager to add value any way I can and learn from one of the brightest and most innovative minds in the game in Nate Oats. It’s a thrill to be joining the Tuscaloosa community, and I’m excited to see everyone soon. Roll Tide!”
Mid-major head coaches leaving for high-major assistant jobs is becoming more common, as the disparity in resources and exposure continues to grow. Outside of being able to make more money, high-major assistant coaches have more opportunity to appear in nationally televised games and play in meaningful March basketball games.
Oats still has two assistant positions to fill, as all three of his assistants from the 2022-23 season left for head coaching jobs (Charlie Henry to Georgia State, Bryan Hodgson to Arkansas State and Antoine Pettway to Kennesaw State).
credit to Alabama Athletics for the image