Wayne Yates arrived at the University of Memphis in 1959 and played under former head coach Bob Vanatta for two years. A dominating "big man", Yates filled the Tigers void in the middle of the court and led the team to two NIT appearances and a two year record of 38-8.
As a senior he was voted by the Philadelphia media as the Outstanding Player of the Year to have played in the Palestra Arena. Following his collegiate career, Yates was the first round draft pick of the Los Angeles Lakers and played for the NBA team for five years.
He entered the coaching profession at Memphis under head coach Moe Iba and remained on the staff of Gene Bartow before becoming the Tigers' head coach in 1974. Over the next five seasons his teams compiled a record of 93-49. Yates has coached in the high school and college ranks in Louisiana since leaving Memphis.