KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Western Michigan promoted Clayton Bates to be its basketball coach Saturday, with its athletic director saying the coronavirus crisis impacted the school's search.
Bates was previously an associate head coach for WMU. He replaces Steve Hawkins, whose tenure ended this month after 17 seasons.
"I decided to change leadership of our program days before the COVID-19 crisis emerged. A comprehensive national search in this time of anxiety, despite exceedingly strong national interest in the position, just didn't sit well with me," athletic director Kathy Beauregard said in a statement.
"Clayton is the best person for the job at hand. He brings a wealth of playing and coaching experience and he has a close bond with the young men on our team. They deserve this stability and clear direction for the program," she added.
Western Michigan said it has suspended new, external hires to comply with social distancing practices, and the school noted openly in its news release that it would be saving about $165,000 on its head coach next season.
Bates' salary increases from $110,000 to $120,000 per year, with an additional $100,000 for multimedia rights and speaking opportunities -- a total of $220,000. Hawkins' salary was $225,000, with an additional $160,000 for multimedia rights and speaking opportunities.
"I appreciate athletics director Beauregard's trust and confidence. WMU is a special institution," Bates said. "My family and I are proud Broncos and we are excited to be part of the university in this new capacity. Success is a product of shared ownership. We will work together to represent the university in a first-class manner.''
Assistant coach Thomas Kelley and basketball operations director Jake Bullock are remaining with the program. Assistant coach Glen Heffernan will not be retained. His contract expires April 30.
Hawkins was 291-262 overall as head coach and led the Broncos to two NCAA tournament appearances, but he was coming off two straight losing seasons when his contract was not renewed.
Bates was a guard at Florida from 1992-96, helping the Gators reach the postseason in all four seasons. Bates has spent 15 seasons in different stints with Western Michigan after first being brought on board with the program in 2000.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.