College basketball coaching changes tracker: East Tennessee State stays in-house for Steve Forbes’ replacement

East Tennessee State is promoting assistant Jason Shay to head coach.

Shay won out after Kentucky assistant Joel Justus was given consideration and New Mexico State coach Chris Jans opted to stay out West. Shay will take over for Steve Forbes, who was hired at Wake Forest at the end of April. Shay spent the past five seasons under Forbes, helping the Bucs to a 130-43 record and two league tournament titles. 

“I am humbled, excited and thankful for this opportunity,” Shay said in a statement. “I understand the expectations and standards that have been built for the men’s basketball program, and guarantee I am going to give my very best every day. I am proud to be the head coach at East Tennessee State University.”

Shay previously spent time as an assistant at the Division I level at North Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He also teamed up with Forbes at Northwest Florida State College, a junior college, wherein the team went 62-6 and became one of the best JUCOs in the sport. 

Meantime, Forbes’ hire at Wake Forest signals the only change in a power conference in 2020. Wake Forest, which fired Danny Manning after six seasons, opted to offer the job to the one person in the candidate pool who had a direct tie to athletic director John Currie. Forbes and Currie worked together when they were both at Tennessee. Currie was the associate athletic director, Forbes was an assistant for then-coach Bruce Pearl. 

Forbes’ way to Wake Forest is quite a path. He was fired at Tennessee because of Pearl’s wrongdoing with the NCAA, then had to coach in junior college earlier this decade before working his way back to Division I as an assistant at Wichita State. Forbes guided ETSU to the 2017 NCAA Tournament and would have gone back this year if not for COVID-19 canceling the Big Dance. East Tennessee State went 30-4 under Forbes, amounting to the second-most wins in the sport last season, trailing only Gonzaga at 31. ETSU won the SoCon’s automatic bid in 2020, completing that conference’s postseason tournament before the halt of all college basketball competition on March 12. 

This hiring comes in the aftermath of Danny Manning’s somewhat delayed firing. A source told CBS Sports that Manning’s buyout structure over the course of the next five years is north of $15 million, but that Wake Forest is attempting to get out of that by triggering a fired-with-cause stipulation. Manning, who had no NCAA infractions to his name at Wake Forest, is of course expected to fight this claim and the matter could ultimately wind up going to court. 

Here is the breakdown of the 2020 college basketball coaching carousel. 

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