TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama coach Nate Oats apologized and took responsibility for allowing freshman forward Brandon Miller to continue going through a pat-down during pregame introductions.
Miller had received the pat-down upon his introduction well before the Jan. 15 arrest of then-teammate Darius Miles and another man on capital murder charges in the shooting death of 23-year-old Jamea Harris. Then, police testimony last week accused the second-ranked Crimson Tide’s biggest star of delivering Miles’ gun, though his attorney said he never handled it and didn’t know it was going to be used for a crime.
“That situation’s on me,” Oats said on Tuesday of the pregame ritual. “We addressed it as a team. As soon as I brought it up to them, they immediately understood how it could be interpreted, and we all felt awful about it.
“They explained to me that it’s like when TSA checks you when you get on a plane. And now Brandon’s cleared for takeoff. We as the adults in the room should have been more sensitive to how it could have been interpreted. I dropped the ball. That’s it, I dropped the ball on it. I can assure you it won’t happen again.”
Miller, who has started every game, hasn’t been charged and the university said he is a cooperating witness, not a suspect.
The Tide can clinch the Southeastern Conference regular season title outright with a win Wednesday night against rival Auburn. Miller is the SEC’s leading scorer and fifth-leading rebounder, averaging 19.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.
He scored 41 points against South Carolina a day after the courtroom testimony linking Miller to the scene, and then added 24 against Arkansas. Miller wasn’t named SEC player of the week or freshman of the week.
Oats was asked if he felt backlash is affecting Miller’s chances for in-season or postseason accolades, and said he didn’t know the answer.
“In the SEC, they’ve got to make tough decisions every week as to who gets it,” he said. “There was great players that got the award. Brandon had a good week. I’m sure he’ll get awards moving forward. We’ll address that as it comes up.”