Forbes leaves ETSU for Wake Forest

ETSU basketball coach Steve Forbes accepted a job at Wake Forest last week. Forbes won 75 percent of his games during five seasons at ETSU and led the Bucs to a pair of Southern Conference Tournament titles. PHOTO COURTESY OF ETSU ATHLETICS

ETSU Athletic Director Scott Carter confirmed last Thursday that Steve Forbes has been named the new men’s basketball head coach at Wake Forest University. Carter also announced that Jason Shay has been named ETSU’s interim head coach.
“ETSU is very proud of Coach Steve Forbes and his historic work for our basketball program,” said Carter. “Championship culture at ETSU was restored under his leadership and I particularly want to thank him for the outstanding young men he has recruited to ETSU that have represented our university with character and dedication. We will all miss Steve, Johnetta and the entire Forbes family and wish them happiness in Winston-Salem.”

When Forbes was hired at ETSU back in 2015, he was a bit of an unknown commodity. The headline in the News & Neighbor after Forbes was introduced as ETSU’s new head basketball coach said it all – “Who is Steve Forbes?”

It was a valid question. Forbes had been a dynamic assistant coach at the Division I level, but was embarking on his first Division I head coaching job. But those who knew Forbes best saw big things ahead for the Iowa native.

“He’s gonna knock it out of the park from day one,” said Billy Gillsipie, who Forbes assisted at Texas A&M, “and East Tennessee State will be doing everything they can to hold on to him and everyone else will be saying, ‘Man alive, how did we let this guy get this far into his career? Why didn’t we have him at our place?’ That’s just how good he is.”
Those words proved to be prophetic as Forbes put together a sensational five-year run at ETSU. Forbes compiled an overall record of 130-43 (.751), and directed the Buccaneers to four Southern Conference championships and two NCAA Tournament appearances. This past season, Forbes led the Bucs to a program-record 30 wins en route to capturing both the SoCon regular season and tournament titles. The 130 wins are the most over a five-year run in program history, while ranking 15th nationally since the start of the 2015-16 season.
“Following the successful season of our men’s basketball program, that was unfortunately cut short, it is not surprising that Steve Forbes would rise to the top of the search and ultimately be named head coach for Wake Forest,” said ETSU President Brian Noland. “His selection speaks to the caliber of East Tennessee State University as one of the top mid-major programs in the nation. I have enjoyed watching Coach Forbes lead the ETSU men’s basketball program for the last five years and wish him and his family the best during this transition.”


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