March Madness canceled: ETSU players react, Forbes wants extra year of eligibility for seniors


Steve Forbes during a timeout. (Photo: Jeff Keeling/WJHL)

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Just days after the ETSU men’s basketball team punched its ticket to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, the NCAA announced it was canceling the tournament over COVID-19 concerns.

The Buccaneers, who were riding the winningest season in program history, were looking forward to making their first tournament appearance since 2017.

But now, the Bucs’ historic 30-4 season has come to an abrupt end.

Coach Steve Forbes and his players are heartbroken.

Forbes says he wants an extra year of eligibility for his seniors so that they can have another opportunity to fulfill their dreams of making it to “The Big Dance.”

Forbes issued this statement:

“After meeting with my team today at 3pm about the 3 different scenarios that could transpire in regards to the NCAA Tournament, I found out, while driving home, the NCAA Tournament was cancelled. I’m heartbroken for everyone associated with our program, especially our 5 seniors. These young men dedicated their lives to have the opportunity to represent ETSU in the NCAA Tournament and it’s been taken away from them at no fault of their own. While I wholeheartedly support this decision, I would like to be part of the conversation in conjunction with the Southern Conference and the NCAA in giving our 5 seniors another year of eligibility so they have the opportunity to once again turn their dreams into reality by having the chance to play in the NCAA Tournament next year. I want to personally thank my team and our fans for the magical season that has now come to an end.”

Coach Steve Forbes

After the NCAA’s made its decision, ETSU players took to Twitter not just to express their disappointment, but to also convey their gratitude for a historic season that won’t soon be forgotten.

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