Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats is publicly voicing his support for Michigan’s “Let Them Play” Initiative. 

In a Tuesday night press release, Oats voiced his concerns over Michigan’s pause of contact sports such as basketball due to the diminished opportunities it creates for high school athletes. Oats cited an inability to “see their progress in game film” in order to “evaluate” them, pointing out it forces coaches to recruit other states where seasons are being played.

Nate Oats official press release

In addition to his support of the initiative, Oats added he hopes the state will “reconsider” their decision to postpone contact athletics. 

Oats is a former basketball head coach and math teacher at Romulus High School just outside of Detroit, Michigan. Over his eleven seasons at Romulus, Oats accumulated a 222-52 record including a state championship in 2013 and a multitude of Coach of the Year awards. 

The “Let Them Play” Initiative has advocated for the resumption of Michigan contact athletics since late last year. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recently extended the ban on winter contact sports from Feb. 1 until Feb. 21, an order that has been in place since December. 

Earlier Tuesday, it was announced the “Let Them Play” Coalition would be  filing a lawsuit against the MDHHS in the Michigan Court of Claims over what they deem to be “unconstitutional” COVID-19 restrictions, denying students athletes “equal protection”. While contact sports like basketball, hockey, and cheer are postponed, non-contact sports like gymnastics and swimming are proceeding as normal. 

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