CLEVELAND — After leading the Vikings to two of their most successful seasons in program history, Cleveland State's Dennis Gates is on the move. On Tuesday, Missouri officially announced that it has hired Gates as its new men's basketball coach, replacing Cuonzo Martin, who was fired following the 2021-22 season.
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"After a comprehensive and efficient national search, during which we had the privilege of speaking with an impressive group of coaches, it became clear Coach Gates was what we needed in the next leader of our basketball program," Missouri Director of Athletics Desireè Reed-Francois said in a press conference. "He's smart, driven and focused on winning. He's a proven recruiter, a strong evaluator of talent, an innovative teacher of the game and has a unique enthusiasm and passion for his work and for his student athletes that draws people in. He shares our vision of where Mizzou basketball can and will go. It is our privilege to welcome Coach Gates, his wife Jocelyn, and their family to Mizzou."
The 42-year-old Gates arrived in Cleveland in 2019 following the firing of former head coach Dennis Felton. In his first season with the Vikings, the former Florida State assistant amassed an 11-21 record, before leading Cleveland State to a Horizon League regular-season title with a 19-8 record in 2021.
The Vikings would also go on to win the Horizon League Tournament, earning the program's first NCAA Tournament bid since 2009. Entering "The Big Dance" as a No. 15 seed, CSU lost to No. 2 seed Houston in the first round.
The Vikings' success would continue the following season, with CSU winning a second consecutive Horizon League regular-season championship with a 20-11 record. The Vikings, however, would miss out on a second straight NCAA Tournament appearance after losing to Wright State in the Horizon League Tournament. Instead, CSU would head to the NIT as a No. 7 seed, with the Vikings' season coming to an end with a 72-68 loss to No. 2 seed Xavier.
"On behalf of Cleveland State University, including President Sands and our administration, faculty and staff, students, alumni and fans, we sincerely thank Dennis for his time leading the Vikings," Cleveland State Athletic Director Scott Garrett wrote in a statement. "We are incredibly proud of the championship culture that Coach Gates has worked hard to put in place, especially through the team's outstanding academic success, community engagement and recent on-court accomplishments. We wish nothing but the best to Dennis, his wife Jocelyn, and their children Avery, Duke and DJ, and we will be rooting for their continued success."
In three seasons with CSU, Gates totaled a 50-40 record, including a 38-21 mark in Horizon League play, and was twice named the conference's Coach of the Year (2020, 2021). His .556 winning percentage is the second-best in program history, trailing only Kevin Mackey (.672).
"It is bittersweet to leave Cleveland State University as the last three years consisted of incredible lifelong memories," Gates said. "With the leadership of President Harland Sands, Athletic Director Scott Garrett and the entire administration, we accomplished championships in the classroom, on the court and in the community. Thank you to the Cleveland community for your unwavering support. Lastly, I want to thank the student-athletes and their families who believed in the vision I set forth and carried out the culture each and every day."
In heading to the Southeastern Conference, he'll takeover a Tigers program coming off a disappointing 12-21 season. Mizzou went to the NCAA Tournament just last year, but has not been past the first round since 2010.