Monday afternoon, Alabama basketball head coach Nate Oats met with the media for his regularly scheduled press conference ahead of Tuesday’s game with Vanderbilt, but the coach didn’t receive a single question on the upcoming game.
Instead, Oats received multiple questions in connection with the arrest of Alabama basketball player Darius Miles, who was charged with capital murder after a Sunday morning shooting on The Strip in Tuscaloosa. Miles has since been removed from the team and the University of Alabama following his arrest.
Miles is one of two men charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting of Birmingham native Jamea Jonae Harris, 23, on The Strip in Tuscaloosa early Sunday morning.
In a statement released by his attorney, William White, Miles maintains that he is innocent.
"Darius Miles and his family are heartbroken tonight over the death of Jamea Jonae Harris. While Darius has been accused of being involved with this tragedy, he maintains his innocence and looks forward to his day in court. Our firm's own investigation is ongoing, and no further statement will be made at this time," the statement read.
Oats opened Monday’s press conference by addressing the situation and offering his sympathy to the victim's family.
“I just want to start today by offering deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jamea Jonae Harris, a young mother who was taken way too soon from a senseless act,” Oats said Monday. “This is an incredibly sad situation. Our hearts go out to her loved ones. We’re keeping them in our thoughts and prayers as they continue to grieve. We came together last night and talked. I thought it was important that we were all here and around to support one another through this situation. With this being a pending investigation, there’s nothing I can add that hasn’t already been shared."
He continued, "You may have some questions, but there’s nothing I can comment on relative to Darius’ situation and the investigation. Again, our sympathies to Jamea’s family following this unimaginable loss. This is a really difficult situation. We’re continuing to support each other as we process this and balance school with basketball. To that end, we regrouped this morning to maintain our routine and some structure in the midst of this situation. We’ll practice before heading up to Nashville for the Vanderbilt game.”
Nate Oats met with his team Sunday night to help his team pull together and support each other during this tragedy, and the players’ response to his message has been good, according to Oats.
"They've been good," he stated. "There was a lot of hugs last night. I mean, everybody understands the situation. Everyone is aware of the services offered on campus and are taking advantage of them through our sports medicine for these types of situations. They're going to need some additional support moving forward too."
Oats extended his thoughts and prayers for both families involved in the situation after processing the news.
"I've got three daughters," he outlined. "It went through my mind and how easily it could have been one of mine. Tough situation. Talking to Darius' mother multiple times yesterday, a very hard situation on both accounts. Just continue to pray for Jamea and her family. I didn't know them, but they're certainly our thoughts and prayers and continuing to pray for Darius' situation. It's an unfortunate incident that I wish we weren't having to deal with today."
Oats was asked if it was an isolated issue or if any other players were involved.
"No, as I mentioned earlier, all of us got together last night," he replied. "It's an ongoing investigation. Our entire remaining team is traveling to Nashville and will be available to play in the game tomorrow."
Alabama will return to action Tuesday, January 17, at Vanderbilt.
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