The Cleveland State University Board of Trustees approved updated contract terms for head men’s basketball coach Dennis Gates at the May 20, 2021 meeting. CSU and Coach Gates have agreed to a revised contract that will now run through the 2026-27 season, with the possibility that more years could be added if Gates’ teams meet certain on-and-off court performances incentives.
“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.”
Cleveland State finished the 2020-21 season with a 19-8 record, including 16 regular season conference wins, marking the most wins in league play in team history (previously 15, 1992-93 season). The Vikings finished at the top of their conference for the fifth time in program history (2010-11 in the Horizon League, and 1992-93, 1985-86, and 1984-85 in the Mid-Continent Conference/AMCU). The 2020-21 season was capped off with the program’s third-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament (1986, 2009, 2021).
“We are so proud of the outstanding impact Coach Gates and his staff have made at Cleveland State in a very short period of time,” said Cleveland State Director of Athletics Scott Garrett. “The success of our student-athletes academically, and on the basketball court, has energized our students, faculty, staff, alumni and CSU fans across Northeast Ohio and beyond. We look forward to working with Coach Gates to strategically build on this season’s Horizon League Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance, and to reopening the Wolstein Center doors for fans to join us during what will be one of the most highly anticipated men’s basketball seasons in Cleveland State history.”
The new contract terms will increase Gates’ base salary, with various opportunities to earn additional earned and discretionary performance bonuses for media appearances, team academic performance, rules compliance, and basketball success. Cleveland State also has planned for additional investment in the assistant coaching salary pool, home game scheduling opportunities, and other operating budget areas like strength and conditioning, recruiting, travel and equipment. CSU will include Gates over the next several months in upcoming strategic campus facilities planning, which are expected to address the future of basketball and other athletics facilities. Beginning in 2023-24, Gates has the potential to earn an automatic rolling year for 2027-28 and beyond through various performance elements.
“Dennis Gates embodies everything we stand for at CSU: “Engaged Learning,” teamwork and success in the classroom – all of which lead to success on the court and in life,” Cleveland State President Harlan Sands said. “We are all excited about where he will take our program next.”
Last season, Gates led Cleveland State to its best start in conference play in program history, as the Vikings rattled off nine straight wins between December 19 and January 15, capped off by a thrilling 66-64 win at Wright State in an ESPNU nationally-televised game. The nine wins also marked the program’s longest winning streak since winning 12 consecutive games in the 2010-11 season.
Under Gates’ guidance, junior guard Tre Gomillion was named Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year, as well as a member of the All-League Defensive Team, while Torrey Patton (All-League First Team) and Deante Johnson (All-League Defensive Team) also garnered postseason honors.
In the classroom this past season, nine Vikings made the Horizon League’s Fall Academic Honor Roll, leading all Horizon League men’s basketball programs. Cleveland State men’s basketball had eight student-athletes on the Cleveland State Dean’s List this past fall, while Ben Sternberg appeared on the President’s List. As a team, the Vikes own a current cumulative team GPA of 3.35.
In the community, Gates began “Viking Literacy,” a program that allows members of the Cleveland State men’s basketball team to read to elementary school children in the Cleveland City School District.
As the team looks to preparations for the 2021-22 season, and a defense of the Horizon League Championship, it has recently added graduate transfers Nathanael Jack from Florida State University and Broc Finstuen from University of Pacific, while seniors Craig Beaudion and Torrey Patton have both announced that they will return to Cleveland State in their final year of eligibility.
Gates arrived at CSU prior to the 2019-20 season following a long stint as an assistant coach at Florida State University. In two seasons at the helm of the Vikings, the Chicago, Illinois, native owns an overall record of 30-29 and has been recognized with consecutive Horizon League Coach of the Year awards.