- Previously covered University of Michigan for ESPN.com and AnnArbor.com
- Also covered Notre Dame for Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats took blame Tuesday for the pregame introduction pat-down where walk-on Adam Cottrell patted down freshman forward Brandon Miller before Saturday’s win over Arkansas.
Oats said his players told him the introduction was simulating a person getting checked by the Transportation Security Administration as they clear through security before boarding a flight.
“That situation is on me. We addressed as a team and as soon as I brought it up to them, they immediately understood how it could be interpreted and we all felt awful about it,” Oats said. “They explained to me that it’s like when TSA checks you before you get on a plane and now Brandon’s cleared for takeoff.
“We, as the adults in the room, should have been more sensitive to how it could have been interpreted. I dropped the ball. That’s it. I dropped the ball on it. We’ve addressed it. I can assure you that it won’t happen again.”
On Saturday, after Alabama’s win, Oats said he doesn’t watch player introductions but called Miller’s pregame introduction ritual “not appropriate.” Miller had done the same pat-down pregame introduction for most games during Alabama’s season. He continued doing it even after Tuscaloosa detective Branden Culpepper testified during a preliminary hearing on Feb. 21 that Miller transported ex-teammate Darius Miles’ gun to him on the night of the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Jamea Jonae Harris on Jan. 15, after Miles texted him to do so. Miles and Michael Lynn Davis are both accused of capital murder.
Miller has not been charged with a crime and both investigators and Oats have said Miller has cooperated with police in the investigation. Paula Whitley, the Tuscaloosa chief deputy district attorney, told AL.com there was “nothing we could charge [Miller] with.”
Miller’s attorney, Jim Standridge, released a statement Wednesday saying Miller did not see Miles’ gun in the car and that it was “concealed under some clothing in the back seat” of Miller’s car. Standridge also claimed Miller didn’t touch the gun and was not involved in giving the gun to Michael Lynn Davis, who allegedly fired the weapon that killed Harris.
Tuesday was the fifth straight news conference, whether before or after games, in which Alabama did not make players available to address the media.
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