Ottawa University women’s basketball coach Bruce Tate announced he will leave coaching to focus on expanding administrative duties after 22 years with the program, the last 13 years of which he served as head coach.
Tate spent nine years from 1998-2006 as an assistant coach and was also the head junior varsity coach.
Tate will continue to serve in an expanded role as associate director of athletics, a position he has held for the past 14 years. He said the transition away from coaching is for reasons both personal and professional.
"My wife and I are in the midst of some exciting and rewarding plans that will change our family dynamic, and I will need more time to focus on those things," Tate said. "Due to the growth of our athletic programs, there are administrative needs to help the university maintain and retain that success, so it’s good timing to expand my role as Associate Director of Athletics."
Tate’s broadened duties will center around the athletic department’s strategic goal to increase the overall retention of student-athletes. Serving in the newly created position of Director of Student Athlete Success, which will be aligned with his ADA role, Tate will focus on academic progress, mentoring and enhancing the overall experience of student athletes.
"I am looking forward to meeting with university administrators and staff to evaluate retention protocols and rates, utilizing my experience to help make improvements in this area," Tate said. "I also want to use the extra time I’ll now have to focus on other areas, including mentoring coaches, facility improvements, fundraising and enhancing the department’s day-to-day operations."
OU Athletic Director Arabie Conner said Tate is a respected leader and administrator who has made a significant impact on the university’s coaching staff and the department as a whole.
"Bruce has been a critical member of the athletic leadership team here for many years while balancing his coaching role and unwavering commitment to his players," Conner said. "We would not be where we are as an athletic department or institution without his administrative talents and selfless commitment to his role outside of coaching. His ability to manage his time between his family and the many different hats he’s worn here through the years has been remarkable and something we have all truly admired."
Conner said his passion for coaching, love of his players and student-centered approach has been a model for all OU coaches, one that will continue to live on.
"Although he will be sorely missed by his players on the court and in the basketball world, we are happy and excited for him and his decision to give additional focus to the continued growth and improvement of our department and overall institutional success," Conner said.
After more than two decades in the coaching ranks, Tate said the decision to make this transition is bittersweet.
"I will miss my players and the relationships I’ve been able to establish with them over the years," Tate said. "I’ve enjoyed seeing them grow as athletes and young women, and it has always been very rewarding to be a part of that growth and to watch them as they graduate and embark on the next chapter of their lives."
Tate leaves the sideline with honor and pride after 13 seasons as head coach.
"I’m very proud of the players I’ve coached, and how my program has represented Ottawa University in all areas on and off the court," Tate said. "I’m intrigued by what this next chapter may bring in my life, but there is an air of sadness knowing I will miss coaching and being around the players."
Tate charted an overall record of 142-235 and 112-143 in the KCAC. His 2015-16 Braves team were KCAC Tournament Championship runner-up, after upsetting the third- and second-place teams. He coached 25 All-KCAC performers and two NAIA All-Americans. The Braves excelled in the classroom under his leadership with 11 teams being named NAIA Scholar Teams and 32 student-athletes earning Daktronic Scholar Athlete honors.
Three times, Tate’s teams were honored with the KCAC "Champions of Character" award. Service was also paramount for Tate and his teams. Key service projects included hosting Red Cross blood drives and fundraising for United Way and Franklin County. Tate also served for 10 years as chair for the KCAC women’s basketball committee and was a mentor coach for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
A 2000 OU graduate, Tate has a bachelor’s degree in physical education with an emphasis in recreation administration and health and fitness. He also earned a master’s degree in health, physical education and recreation from Emporia State University in 2005.
A national search is underway for the next OU women’s basketball head coach.