Former UC basketball player, coach Tony Yates passes away

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Cincinnati Bearcats player Toni Yates
Photo from (UC Athletics)

Former University of Cincinnati standout men’s basketball player and coach Tony Yates passed away on Saturday night at the age of 82.

Born on Sept. 15, 1937 in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, Yates, along with his older brother, Fletcher, led Lockland Wayne High School to the 1952 Ohio State Championship. After graduating in 1954, Yates joined the U.S. Air Force and served until 1959 before attending UC as a 22-year old. During his time at UC, his teammates called him “Gramps.”

Yates’ career as a Bearcat spanned three eras – as a player in 1960s, assistant coach in the 1970s and head coach in the 1980s.

Named a first team All-American by the Helms Foundation and first team All-Missouri Valley Conference honoree as a senior in 1963, Yates averaged 7.6 points and 2.7 assists as team captain of the national runner-up Bearcats. He was tabbed with second team All-America accolades from the Helms Foundation as a junior in 1962, averaging 8.2 points and 4.3 assists while helping direct UC to a 29-2 record and second consecutive national title.

Yates launched his coaching career as an assistant at UC from 1972-74 under head coaches Tay Baker and Gale Catlett. After a nine-year stint as an assistant coach at Illinois (1975-83), Yates returned to his alma mater to serve as head coach of the Bearcats for six seasons from 1984-89, posting a 70-100 record with an NIT appearance in 1989.

Bates is One of only two players in program history – along with Tom Thacker – to play in three NCAA tournament championship games (1961-63), Yates was a three-year starting point guard for the Bearcats, helping guide UC to national titles in 1961 and 1962 and a runner-up finish in 1963. A two-time All-American, Yates helped the Bearcats compile an 82-7 mark during his career and earned a reputation as the team’s top defender on squads which were never listed outside the top 15 in the nation’s defensive rankings.

Yates was inducted into the James P. Kelly UC Athletics Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020.

He is survived by his wife Maxine and two children, Anthony and Brianna.

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