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ETSU Basketball Players Believe Jason Shay Fired for Supporting Anthem Protest

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVApril 2, 2021

John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After East Tennessee State men's basketball coach Jason Shay announced his resignation this week, several players have come forward to support the coach.

According to Michael A. Fletcher of ESPN, the players believe he was forced to leave for supporting them when they kneeled during the national anthem as a protest against racial inequality.

"I personally feel like him resigning is crazy," freshman point guard Truth Harris told ESPN. "It shows a lot of what is going on in this town, and in this country right now."

Senior guard Jordan Coffin further elaborated on the situation in a video on social media:

"All this about us kneeling, and then Coach Shay supporting us through all of that," Coffin said. "People should want a coach that stands behind the players through anything."

The players took a knee during the national anthem ahead of a February 15 game against Chattanooga. About a week later, GOP members of the Tennessee senate signed a letter calling for players to be punished for their actions. 

ETSU President Brian Nolan also said he "would have done some things differently."

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Shay supported the players but resigned after just one season as the team's head coach with two years left on his contract. The team went 13-12 in his first year on the job.

Athletic director Scott Carter clarified that it was Shay's decision to step down.

"ETSU did not fire Coach Shay nor force Coach Shay to resign," Carter said in a statement to ESPN.

Six players have entered the transfer portal this offseason, including Harris.