UB men’s basketball coaches wear lime-green sneakers for Coaches vs. Cancer week

Lime-green chosen for Oats’ wife Crystal and her battle with lymphoma


The coaches of the Buffalo men’s basketball team, in collaboration with Coaches vs. Cancer week, donned lime-green Nike sneakers on Tuesday night against Ball State and will wear them in their game on Saturday night as well.

The color lime-green was chosen in honor of head coach Nate Oats’ wife, Crystal, who is currently battling non-Hodgkin’s double-hit lymphoma.

“I called Nike, who sponsored us, to see if they can come up with the lime-green. The non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma’s color is lime-green,” Oats said. “Nike came through for us.”

The Coaches vs. Cancer program is a nationwide collaboration between the coaches of the NCAA and the American Cancer Society that takes place one week per year. The initiative is supposed to enable people to join the fight to end cancer, as well as allow players, coaches and fans to participate in advocacy events, fundraisers and raise awareness efforts.

The Bulls’ coaches have donned a lime-green ribbons since the beginning of the season – around the time of Crystal’s diagnosis. Crystal was diagnosed toward the end of October and is undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

Many of the Bulls’ opponents have shown support for Oats. When Buffalo traveled to play Duke on Dec. 5, Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski wore a pin nearly identical to Buffalo’s ribbon that had “Hope” written on it.

Chris Williams of the Iowa State fan site, “CycloneFanatic.com,” created a GoFundMe page to raise money for Crystal’s medical bills. The page raised $12,750 by 434 donors in one month.

The coaches’ sneakers have the approval of some of the Bulls players too. “[Senior guard Jarryn] Skeete said the shoes look fire,” Oats said.

Oats said the coaching staff will wear the sneakers once more on Saturday against Toledo. He noted that fans may see the bright-green sneakers a few more times than expected.

“If we go 2-0 in them, we may have to reconsider it,” Oats said.

Jordan Grossman is the co-senior sports editor and can be reached at jordan.grossman@ubspectrum.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jordanmgrossman.