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It’s official: ETSU hires Shay to replace Forbes

Joe Avento • Updated May 6, 2020 at 9:21 PM

Jason Shay was introduced as the 17th basketball coach in East Tennessee State history Wednesday night.

Reports surfaced earlier in the day that Shay would be getting the job and ETSU made it official later when Scott Carter, the school’s athletic director, made the announcement.

Shay is replacing Steve Forbes, who was hired away by Wake Forest after five successful years.

“I am humbled, excited and thankful for this opportunity with Dr. Noland and Scott Carter entrusting me to be the leader of the ETSU men’s basketball program,” Shay said in a statement released by the university. “I understand the expectations and standards that have been built for the men’s basketball program, and guarantee I am going to give my very best every day. I am proud to be the head coach at East Tennessee State University.”

Shay was Forbes’ right-hand man on a team that won 130 games over five years, including going 30-4 this year. The former walk-on at Iowa has been part of 12 NCAA Tournament teams as a player and a coach.

“In talking with numerous athletic administrators and basketball minds across the country, everyone had incredible praise for Coach Shay,” said Carter, who was in the athletic administration at Tennessee while Shay was on Bruce Pearl’s staff. “I have known Coach Shay and his family for 15 years and am so excited for his hard work to be realized with this opportunity. His connection to our student-athletes, wealth of basketball experience, competitiveness and knowledge of the game will be invaluable as our head coach. The entire ETSU family is behind Coach Jason Shay and cannot wait for the future of Buccaneer Basketball.”

ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland said on Tuesday that he was taking his time to make sure he hired the right coach. After doing his research, he believes he found his man.

“Over the course of the past week, we have conducted an exhaustive national search for the next head men's basketball coach at East Tennessee State University. Throughout this process, one name continued to emerge and that was Jason Shay,” Noland said. “Coach Shay is widely recognized as one of the brightest basketball minds in America and we are excited that he and his family are deepening their roots in the Appalachian Highlands. I am confident that Coach Shay will build on the tradition of excellence that he has established over the past five years and lead the program to new heights.”

New Mexico State coach Chris Jans was thought to be in the mix for the job, as was Kentucky assistant Joel Justus.

Shay had coached with Forbes for 12 years, including the last five at ETSU. Forbes endorsed Shay for the job, saying he was ready and deserving.

They spent five years on Pearl’s staff at Tennessee and two years in junior college. Beginning at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Shay coached with Pearl for 10 years.

Turner Battle, a former assistant coach at Chattanooga, UAB and Buffalo, is expected to be on Shay’s staff.

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