JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Former and current ETSU men’s basketball players were met with shock and surprise upon learning of head coach Jason Shay’s resignation.

ETSU announced the first-year head coach’s departure Tuesday afternoon. Shay called the team in for a 3:30 pm. meeting to deliver the news.

“He was like ‘don’t feel bad but I’m resigning’ and then it was just quiet,” Bucs senior Jordan Coffin said. “We were all just dumbfounded and lost but he was like he feels like it’s better for his family and that was pretty much all he said but players know what’s going on.”

In a statement by the university, Shay called this past year “extremely challenging for me in many different ways.”

One of those challenges was the backlash from the team taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem prior to basketball games.

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

“I know this is more than basketball it’s a business but there’s also a side where it’s about family too ETSU should be one big family we say it all the time, one, two, three, family,” Coffin said.

Former Buccaneer Tray Boyd III echoed Coffin’s thoughts, who played in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons when Shay was an assistant under Steve Forbes.

“When it comes to basketball Shay was the man and for him to stand up for what he stood up for that just shows he’s a man of integrity as well,” Boyd said, who led the team in scoring in both seasons.

The Bucs have started a search for their third head coach in the last three seasons.

“Now you have to go find another guy to try and reach that standard that we put on here at East Tennessee State basketball so now that will be the hard part to find a guy who fits every category to make everyone happy,” Boyd said.

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