UB starting to create winning legacy in WNY

Photo of UB coaches Felisha Legette-Jack and Nate Oats from theathletic.com.

There’s little doubt the University at Buffalo’s basketball teams are creating the biggest sports buzz around Western New York these days. It’s not exactly a difficult contest. With the Sabres doing a magnificent job of defining “failure to thrive”, there’s absolutely no competition for the hearts and souls of sports fans in WNY at this moment.

Thankfully, UB’s foray into the round-of-32 in the NCAA basketball tournament by BOTH men and women’s teams are giving us something to distract us from the innumerable ways the Sabres find to break our hearts these days.

If you made the mistake of adding me to your Twitter feed, then you already know I’m a proud UB alum who screams across your timeline every time they win a game. That’s because like many elder-alums, we remember the darker days of UB sports.

Photo from ubbullrun.com.

In fact, for those too young to remember, there’s a reason why older UB graduates are lukewarm about cheering for any accomplishments by Syracuse University teams. It still chaps my hide that the New York State legislature appropriated funds in the 1970s to build the Carrier Dome while we walked by our HALF CONDEMNED football stadium on the Main Street Campus on our way to classes every day. The burn is still real.

That stated, even the biggest UB homers like myself did a double take when this showed up on our timelines:

Um, nope.

While there’s no doubt that Nate Oats and Felisha Legette-Jack are the talk of the town at the moment and rightfully so, they are only beginning to steer UB’s long legacy of losing sports teams into a different narrative.

Many of us who graced UB campuses decades ago remember the mantra we used whenever someone rubbed salt in the wounds of our sports despair. How many times did we find ourselves saying we are more concerned with excellence in academics than sports?

But truth be told, most of us said it with a green eyeball of envy directed toward all the other great universities around the country who enjoyed success at the D-1 level while we middled around in D-3 sports.

Fortunately, UB changed its philosophy in the early 1990s and the NYS legislature was finally embarrassed enough to start funding their flagship university sports programs for a change. It has been a long and difficult road to respectability, but UB is finally putting itself in the discussion.

Photo of UB Coach Felisha Legette-Jack from bizjournals.com.

No matter how far UB advances (or not) in the NCAA basketball tournament, both men and women’s teams are creating a new legacy for success. We have every reason to be very optimistic about the future of D-1 sports at UB.

However, it remains to be seen whether or not UB will be able to retain coaches like Oats and Jack long term. So far, so good but we all know too well what the bright lights and bigger paychecks can do to lure away top coaching talent.

Photo of UB Coach Nate Oats from buffalonews.com and Getty Images.

Let’s see UB retain Oats and Jack long term like Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim before we declare them to be bigger names in WNY than Jim Kelly. In the meantime, instead of making outlandish declarations, how about we enjoy the moment and hopefully watch UB’s teams advance further in the tournament today.

Win or lose, UB is definitely on the map and in the discussion. That alone should stoke fire and passion for UB sports in Western New York. Let’s let that be enough for now.

Editor’s babble: I’ve worn my UB gear with pride even when they were losers, so it’s a lot of fun when people actually recognize UB here in Wyoming. Here’s hoping current success leads to a changing legacy. If you can stand it, you can find me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO. #UBhornsUP

About Robyn Mundy

Robyn Mundy is Editor-in-Chief of the BillsMafia blog at BillsMafia.com. She's a retired oncology nurse & psychotherapist who loves to write about her life-long passion for the Buffalo Bills, and occasionally something of clinical or social relevance. Robyn lives with her husband Gary and their dogs in the foothills of the glorious Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Robyn is also a proud founding sponsor. Follow her on Twitter at @robynmundyWYO.

3 Replies to “UB starting to create winning legacy in WNY”

  1. Every alum, and even non-alums, who want to keep Nate and FLJ around and keep growing UB sports needs to contribute to the Blue & White fund, or if you’d rather focus your donations, the Basketball Excellence fund. College sports are fan driven so make a donation or but season tickets or at the very least buy some UB swag.

    But coaches like UB and are will to stay as long as the school shows a commitment to growth. Right now a dedicated basketball practice facility is on the top of the list. (Bet you didn’t know that these varsity teams have to share their gym with intermurals and phys ed?)

    So pony up and #UBHornsUp!

  2. Great article Robin…
    Bills mafia must join in the BULLS family in pressuring NY state into allowing salaries such as those in private institutions in order that we can compete to garner the millions and millions of $ from big college sports. That would go far in improving the athletic facilities FOR ALL and garner national and international respect and up enrollment. Horns up

  3. Too bad Oates just left for Alabama… I went to UB back in the mid 70’s, it was the old campus but I loved it.