CLEVELAND — In March, the Cleveland State University Vikings, led by head coach Dennis Gates, clinched their spot in the 2021 NCAA Tournament for just the third time in program history. With that impressive performance, alongside the impact he provided off the court as well, CSU extended Gates' contract for at least the next six seasons.
CSU and Gates agreed to a revised contract Thursday that will run through the 2026-27 season, with the possibility of additional years added to the contract if Gates' teams meet certain on-and-off court performance incentives.
Gates came to CSU before the 2019-20 season and in his first two seasons owns a 30-29 record and has earned consecutive Horizon League Coach of the Year awards.
Last season when Gates' Vikings won a bid to the big dance, they had finished the regular season with a 19-8 record including 16 regular-season conference wins, the most wins in league play in team history. The Vikings not only performed well on the court, Gates' leadership allowed his players to excel off the court as well.
Nine Vikings players made the Horizon League's Fall Academic Honor Roll with eight student-athletes on the Cleveland State Dean's List in the fall. Gates also launched a community initiative called "Viking Literacy" that saw his players read to elementary school children within the Cleveland City School District.
Due to his success and almost immediate impact in Cleveland, other bigger schools were looking at the possibility of poaching Gates to coach for them, but the CSU contract extension keeps his leadership and talent in Cleveland.
“I’m very thankful and grateful for Cleveland State University President Harlan Sands, Director of Athletics Scott Garrett and the University Board of Trustees for their continued trust and support in me, my coaching staff and our entire men’s basketball program,” said men’s basketball head coach Dennis Gates. “Cleveland State men’s basketball has a very rich tradition and history, and I’m humbled to lead this program. I’m excited for the opportunity to continue to grow upon the success our program has experienced the last two seasons, while building champions in the classroom, on the court and in our community.”
Gates' base salary will be increased as part of the extension and he'll have the opportunity to earn additional bonuses. Come the 2023-24 season, Gates will have the potential for an automatic rolling year for 2027-28 and beyond through "various performance elements."
With the 2021-22 season on the horizon, Gates will see seniors Craig Beaudion and Torrey Patton return for their final year of eligibility while adding graduate transfers Nathanael Jack from Florida State University and Broc Finstuen from University of Pacific.
The Vikings will look to repeat their success from this past season, not only in the 2021-22 season, but for many years to come with Gates at the helm.
“Why not Cleveland State? Why can’t we be another institution whose basketball program becomes a national name and is listed among the best year in and year out? Why can’t we become an even better program than we are in this moment? Why can’t we build an even richer tradition than we already have due to the greats who have poured their life into this program?" Gates said. “We have a great city, a great campus, some of the best sports fans that any city can offer, great leadership, great student-athletes and great support staff. Why can’t we? That’s the question I ask us all.”
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