The Tide trainer called the shooting “an all round tragedy”.
A day after one of his players was charged with murder, Alabama Men’s basketball coach Nate Oats on Monday expressed his condolences to the family of Jamea Jonae Harris, the woman killed in a shooting early Sunday morning in Tuscaloosa.
“It’s really a tragedy all round, but especially for Jamea and her family,” Oats said in a news conference Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours after forward Darius Miles was one of two men charged with Harris’ murder.
Oats said the criminal investigation prevented him from discussing details of the case because they related to Miles, but revealed he had several conversations with Miles’ mother on Sunday. A school statement Sunday said Miles, who was a sophomore in Alabama, had been “removed from campus” and was no longer a member of the team.
Birmingham law firm Boles Holmes White LLC said they represent Miles and have maintained his innocence in a statement reported by AL.com.
“Darius Miles and his family are heartbroken tonight at the death of Jamea Jonae Harris,” the statement said. “Despite being accused of involvement in this tragedy, Darius maintains his innocence and looks forward to his day in court.”
Oats said he met with his players on Sunday night to explain the situation and provide them with advice and support services. He said “our remaining team will travel to Nashville and be available” when No. 4 Tide plays Vanderbilt on Tuesday.
“I wish we didn’t have to deal with this situation. But we really need to pull together as a team and be there for each other,” Oats said.
Miles was in the Alabama lineup for a number of reasons, according to Oats, and has only played six games this season. Before The Tide played LSU on Saturday, Miles was knocked out for the season with an ankle injury. Previously, the product had lost time in Washington, DC due to what Oats called a “personal matter.”
“He actually went back to DC to take care of the personal matter,” Oats said Monday. “He had several problems. They all had nothing to do with this situation.”
Last season, Miles missed a game against Tennessee due to what Oats called poor training habits. A month later, he missed a game against Baylor with a reported knee injury, and a week later was suspended for a game against Kentucky for violating team rules.
“Based on our further discussion of how he’s treating himself, we plan on him being available,” Oats said at the time, according to AL.com.
Harris, 23, a mother of one, was not affiliated with the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa police said. The second man in the case, Michael Lynn Davis of Maryland, is also not charged. Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit Captain Jack Kennedy said Sunday that the 1:45 a.m. shooting appeared to have stemmed from a small altercation earlier in the night on the Strip, a popular bar and restaurant area near campus .
Oats said the tragedy is another opportunity to reinforce the behavioral demands on his team.
“Everyone listens a little more closely after an incident like this,” he said. “We have had speakers come to talk about extrajudicial conduct and we will continue to do so.”