The man known as the “architect” of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Hawk basketball program, died Wednesday, Dec. 16 at the age of 77. John Bates led UMES to some of its greatest accomplishments. The 1973-74 season is one that still lives in the memories of those who follow the program.
The Hawks achieved a top 20 ranking in the Associated Press poll and only lost one game. Despite a 26-1 record during the regular season, the one loss to Morgan State, denied the program a berth in the NCAA Tournament. At that time only 25 teams were invited to the NCAA. UMES became the first historically black college to be selected for the National Invitation Tournament. Bates led the Hawks to an opening round win 84-81 over Manhattan College before losing in the second round 85-83 to Jacksonville State.
Bates’ overall coaching record was 283-134. Following his stint at UMES, he went on to coach 12 years at Coppin State. Bates was elected to the UMES Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999 and was also enshrined in the MEAC Hall of Fame in 1993.
In a statement released by the university Athletic Director Keith Davidson said, “Today the Hawks family mourns the loss of one of our most successful and well-known coaches. Coach Bates’ teams set the standard to which University of Maryland Eastern Shore basketball teams will forever be measured.”
Bates is survived by his wife Althea and their son John Jr.