‘I feel for the students of color, I feel for the minorities, it says a lot’: Local education leader reacts to Shay’s resignation

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – A local education leader is speaking out about her concerns surrounding former ETSU Men’s Basketball Head Coach Jason Shay’s departure and the controversy surrounding it.

Michelle Treece serves as both the Secretary of the Johnson City School Board and as an adjunct professor at ETSU. She also holds three degrees from the university, a Bachelor’s, Master’s, and EdS.

Treece says the controversy surrounding Shay and his team weighs heavily on her and speaks volumes to students.

“I feel for the students of color, I feel for the minorities, it says a lot,” Treece said. “That one statement that the university is supporting, that he’s gone, says a lot about their feelings about minority kids.”

She joins a growing list of people from students to lawmakers who have spoken up about the impact of former Head Coach Jason Shay’s departure.

Shay stepped down from his position on Tuesday. The announcement comes after weeks of conversation and controversy after News Channel 11’s cameras were rolling as the men’s basketball team kneeled during The National Anthem before a game in Chattanooga in February.

Players say it was in an effort to draw attention to racial inequities and injustices in the country. Some in the community saw it as disrespectful to the flag and veterans.

Shay’s departure amidst the controversy had many wondering if he was forced out. The university said that it did not fire Shay nor force him to resign.

Treece says this will have a huge impact on students sticking with the school or even coming in the first place.

“If any student is conscious enough about social justice and equality, and ‘what does this mean for you going forward?’ They could not make a decision without thinking about that,” Treece said. “Like, its hard for me to go out and find a high school kids, college kids of color, and say, ‘We need you, go through ETSU.'”

Treece said she struggles with how people see athletes of color.

“I think about these kids of color at these schools, ‘I need you to go play.’ You’ve heard that ‘shut up and play’ ‘shut up and dribble’ ‘shut up and do whatever,'” Treece said. “I feel for students whose schools look at you as that. Not as a human. You just need to get out on the court, get out on the field, and play.”

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