Two of the fixtures on the East Tennessee State basketball bench for the last decade will be missing next season.
Longtime assistant coaches Mike Boyd and Scott Wagers are heading in different directions with their lives. Boyd has announced his retirement, while Wagers said Wednesday that he’s accepted a job at Lamar in Texas.
Both men have been with ETSU head coach Murry Bartow since he arrived in Johnson City a decade ago. Wagers was a holdover from Ed DeChellis’s staff, having joined the program in 2000.
“They’ve both been really, really good assistants,” said Bartow, “and they’ve done a lot for this program. We’ve been together for 10 years and enjoyed a lot of good times -- three NCAA tournaments and an NIT, which is not easy.
“Those guys have been a major part of our success with their recruiting, scouting and coaching. On the flip side, this gives me an opportunity to bring in two new people with new ideas, new thoughts. I’m in the process of that now.”
Boyd has been in the coaching business for 39 years, including 11 as an assistant at Michigan, where he helped build the powerhouse Fab Five team that won a national championship in 1989.
At 66, he figures now is the time to slow down and more fully enjoy family and friends.
“First of all, I want to thank the people of Johnson City. They’ve been very good to us,” Boyd said Wednesday. “This has been my second-longest tenure in coaching; I appreciate Murry giving me the opportunity.
“We have 10 grandchildren now, from Atlanta to New York to Philadelphia to Michigan, and we’re going to spend some more time with them. But we’re still going to call Johnson City home for right now.”
Wagers, meanwhile, will soon call Beaumont, Texas home. He’s joining the Lamar staff of his old friend Pat Knight, son of legendary coach Bob Knight.
“It’s really exciting because this is a guy who’s like a brother to me,” he said from Beaumont, which lies about 20 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. “Pat’s a guy I’ve developed a trust and big friendship with. We always felt like one day we could work together, and it’s happening. The timing is just right.”
Despite a sour finish at ETSU, with the team going 10-22 last season, Wagers had nothing but good things to say about his time here.
He was largely credited with opening a recruiting pipeline to the Tampa, Fla., area where he once worked as a high school coach. And he orchestrated the defenses that bedeviled opponents in the best of times.
Wagers was part of a championship team in DeChellis’s last season and then made it back the three times with Bartow.
“I’ve been in Johnson City 13 years and developed a lot of friendships there,” he said. “I’ve worked for two good head coaches, both of them tireless workers, both of them highly organized guys who do things the right way. I got to go to some tournaments, got a few rings. I’ve got buddies who have coached all their lives and don’t have any.”