AD: ETSU did not fire or force Shay to resign, former coach to receive $450K


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — East Tennessee State University Athletics Director Scott Carter says the university did not force first-year men’s basketball coach Jason Shay to resign.

In a statement Thursday afternoon, Carter said Shay made the decision to step down.

Earlier today, ETSU and Coach Shay completed execution of the attached separation agreement. This agreement reflects ETSU’s appreciation of Coach Shay’s six years of service to our institution. During his tenure, Coach Shay contributed to the success of two conference championship teams, prioritized the graduation of our student-athletes, and led the men’s basketball team through the pandemic.

I would like to take this opportunity to address some of the speculation that appears in the news and on social media. ETSU did not fire Coach Shay nor force Coach Shay to resign. As outlined in the terms of the separation agreement, in Coach Shay’s statement and in my previous statement, Coach Shay decided to resign.

I again want to thank Coach Jason Shay for his dedication to the men’s basketball program and continue to wish Coach Shay and his family the very best. I ask for your continued support for our student-athletes and entire university community.

Statement from ETSU Athletics Director Scott Carter

The statement addresses questions about whether Shay was pushed to resign over the men’s basketball team kneeling during the playing of the national anthem.

Shay’s resignation was announced Tuesday.

FILE – ETSU Athletics Director Scott Carter

ETSU also released Shay’s separation agreement on Thursday. According to the agreement, the university will pay the former coach $450,000 in “complete fulfillment of its obligations under the contract” in monthly payments of $18,750 per month for two years.

The university will also provide Shay and his family with health insurance for two years or until he accepts full-time employment elsewhere. ETSU will pay the employer’s portion of the premiums while Shay will pay the employee’s portion of the premiums.

Under the terms of his original contract signed last May, Shay would have had to pay ETSU $300,000 for resigning before the end of his contract.

Separation agreement:

Buzz Peterson, who held several college head coaching jobs including a tenure at the University of Tennessee and another at Appalachian State, told News Channel 11 in his experience that a payout when a coach resigns is “an unusual situation.”

“Most of the time as a coach when you resign, you step away, you’re leaving your money on the table,” said Peterson, who now holds a front office job with the Charlotte Hornets NBA franchise.

If a coach isn’t leaving for a better job and willing to pay whatever is in the contract and knows a school doesn’t have cause to fire him, the usual approach is to hold tight, he said.

“The one thing I knew from the people I trusted is never to step away,” Peterson said. “Make it be on their terms, that they were going to dismiss you.”

According to his contract, Shay would have been due his monthly pay through April 1, 2023 had he been fired without cause. That amount of $500,000 is not much more than what he’s being paid in the agreement.

Peterson said even when a coach is leaving mid-contract and not heading to a better job, if a university doesn’t hold him to the contract’s exact terms the agreement that’s reached isn’t as generous as Shay’s.

“I do understand sometimes there’s mutual agreement, that both sides of the party will try to part ways, but most of the time if a coach goes to that…a lot of times it’s not in his favor.”

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