Basketball coaches group commends former ETSU coach Shay


(WJHL) — A basketball coaching organization commended former ETSU men’s basketball coach Jason Shay for “doing the right thing by supporting the student-athletes as well as standing up against social injustice.”

The Rising Coaches DEI Alliance, which has a member of about 1,400 coaches at various levels, issued a statement Thursday regarding Shay’s resignation from ETSU.

The Rising Coaches DEI Alliance is asking all coaches, despite their race, gender or rank to stand together in unity as one.  Jason Shay, most recently the head men’s basketball coach at East Tennessee State University, was forced to resign after just one season on Tuesday.

In an effort to peacefully protest social injustice, the ETSU basketball team and coaches took a knee prior to its game in Chattanooga on Feb. 15.  Afterwards, Coach Shay received well-documented backlash from Tennessee state representatives and ETSU boosters for supporting and joining the student-athletes. His support ended up costing him his job at the end of the season.

During the aftermath of the Breonna Taylor and George Floyd murders in 2020, the coaching community has come together and vowed to no longer stand silent as people of color remain the target of violence and racism.

The DEI Alliance is asking coaches to stand up and help lead the charge for change. Coach Shay and his coaching staff should be commended for doing the right thing by supporting the student-athletes as well as standing up against social injustice.

Please use #SupportCoachShay.  Let him know his efforts were not in vain.

The DEI Alliance will continue to work to ensure all our University communities and beyond create equitable opportunities and outcomes for people of all races.

Rising Coaches DEI Alliance Statement on the resignation of Jason Shay

Shay and his players came under fire by some fans and local lawmakers after the team was seen kneeling during the playing of the national anthem prior to a game at Chattanooga. The team had kneeled at other away games as well.

“When you think about leadership, I think coach Shay, his actions really exemplify leadership and what you want out of a coach, not only did he support his players but he stood up for the right thing, he stood up against social injustice, he stood up against racism, it’s really unfortunate that that cost him his job,” said Adam Gordon, CEO of Rising Coaches.

“We put out this statement letting him know that the entire coaching community is behind him and letting him know that his efforts were not in vain just again very unfortunate that it cost him an opportunity he worked his whole career for.”

Photo: WJHL (ETSU men’s basketball team kneeling before game at Chattanooga on Feb 15.)

In a statement released Thursday, ETSU Athletics Director Scott Carter said the university did not fire Shay, nor did it force him to resign. Shay’s original contract would have required him to pay $300,000 to the university for resigning prior to the end of his contract. Instead, in a separation agreement, the university agreed to pay the coach a total of $450,000 over the span of two years for his resignation.

Despite the athletic director’s statements, many still feel the coach was pressured to step down.

Shay had only been ETSU’s coach for one season after being promoted to the position following the departure of former head coach Steve Forbes. Shay spent five years as an assistant with Forbes at the helm at ETSU.

Despite the pandemic and the fact the team lost many players from the previous season, the Buccaneers finished the 2020-21 season with a 13-12 overall record and 8-7 conference record in Shay’s first year.

“This is his first year,” Gordon said. “This is a really competitive profession and he’s worked his entire career for an opportunity like this and ETSU is historically a very good, mid-major job. For that opportunity to get taken away from him, for standing up, doing the right thing, supporting his athletes and standing up against social injustice is really a shame.”

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