East Tennessee State Buccaneers

The East Tennessee State Buccaneers are the sixteen sports teams representing East Tennessee State University (ETSU) in Johnson City, Tennessee in intercollegiate athletics, including men and women's basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, and track and field; women's-only softball and volleyball; and men's-only baseball and football. The Buccaneers compete in the NCAA Division I and are currently members of the Southern Conference.[2]

East Tennessee State Buccaneers
UniversityEast Tennessee State University
ConferenceSouthern Conference
NCAADivision I
Athletic directorScott Carter
LocationJohnson City, Tennessee
Varsity teams16
Football stadiumWilliam B. Greene Jr. Stadium
Basketball arenaFreedom Hall Civic Center
Baseball stadiumThomas Stadium
Soccer stadiumSummers-Taylor Stadium
Other arenasJ. Madison Brooks Gymnasium ETSU/Mountain States Health Alliance Athletic Center
ColorsNavy Blue and Gold[1]


A member of the Southern Conference, East Tennessee State sponsors teams in nine men's and nine women's NCAA sanctioned sports:[3]

Men's Intercollegiate Sports Team Article Head Coach Women's Intercollegiate Sports Team Article Head Coach
Baseball Joe Pennucci Basketball Buccaneers women's basketball Brittney Ezell
Basketball Buccaneers men's basketball Steve Forbes Cross Country George Watts
Cross Country George Watts Golf Stefanie Shelton
Football Buccaneers football Randy Sanders Soccer Adam Sayers
Golf Fred Warren Softball Brad Irwin
Soccer Buccaneers men's soccer Bo Oshoniyi Tennis Vacant
Tennis Yaser Zaatini Track & Field (Indoor & Outdoor) George Watts
Track & Field (Indoor & Outdoor) George Watts Volleyball Lindsey Devine


ETSU's baseball team won the 2013 Atlantic Sun Tournament with a 7-2 win over Kennesaw State May 26, 2013. The first-ever A-Sun championship for ETSU win earned the Bucs their first NCAA tournament appearance in 32 years.[4]


ETSU has a long history in men's Basketball with a record of 1,252-1,005 all time and 10 overall appearances in the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, with their last appearance coming in 2017. They appeared in Sweet Sixteen in 1968 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, and have overall tournament record of 2-10.[5]

The men's head coach is currently Steve Forbes. He became the 16th head coach in ETSU's 95-year history on March 30, 2015. He most recently served two seasons as an assistant coach at Wichita State where he helped take the Shockers to the Sweet 16 this past season. According to ETSU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Richard Sander, Forbes’ recruiting ties and his extensive background as an assistant coach at the NCAA Division I level – which included a five-year stop at the University of Tennessee – made him a perfect fit for ETSU.[6]

ETSU has also had success with their women's basketball program going to the NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championships in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Besides appearing in the NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship three times, they have also appeared Women's National Invitation Tournament three times with their most recent appearance coming in 2015. Overall the women's program has 543-597 record.[7]

The women's head coach is currently Brittney Ezell. She became the eighth head coach in the 46-year history of East Tennessee State University women’s basketball on May 8, 2013. The 2013-14 campaign—in which the team went 9-21 overall—was Ezell's first leading the Bucs after spending three seasons as the head coach at Belmont University in Nashville. In 2014-15, ETSU experienced an unbelievable turnaround under Ezell with a 16-game win progression from 2013-14 where the Bucs went 9-21. The total win improvement was the second best in the country. The 2014-15 win total of 21 marked the first time since the 2009-10 season that ETSU reached 20 wins. Led by Ezell, the Bucs made it to the Southern Conference Tournament Championship game falling to No.1 seed Chattanooga in overtime, 61-56. ETSU appeared in the Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) for the third time in school history falling short to NC State, 73-59.[8]


East Tennessee State established its first football team in 1920 when the university was still called East Tennessee State Normal School.[9] ETSU fielded a team every year until the 2004 season when the decision was made to disband the program based on the recommendations of a 1999 Athletic Task Force and then university president Paul Stanton. In January 2013, the Student Government Association approved a student fee increase that would help fund and resurrect the program.[10] Former University of Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer has been given the task to help guide the direction of the new program.[11] On the recommendation of Coach Fulmer, ETSU hired former University of North Carolina head coach Carl Torbush as the team's new head coach.[12] In the Fall of 2017, the Buccaneers will begin playing on their newly erected football stadium.

Notable football alumni include Donnie Abraham, Earl Ferrell, Thane Gash, Gerald Sensabaugh and Mike Smith. A couple of the more memorable highlights of ETSU football history include the 1969 team that went undefeated and beat Louisiana Tech, led by Terry Bradshaw, in the Grantland Rice Bowl in Baton Rouge, LA and the 1996 team that went 10-3 and advanced to the Division I-AA quarterfinals after defeating Villanova, 35-29, in a first-round playoff game in Memorial Center.[9]

Men's golf

The men's golf team has won 24 conference championships.[13]

Their best finish in the NCAA Division I Championship was 3rd place in 1996.[13]

Notable ETSU golfers include Eric Axley, Rhys Davies, David Eger, Larry Hinson, Mike Hulbert, Keith Nolan, J. C. Snead, Bobby Wadkins, and Garrett Willis.

Southern Conference

On May 30, 2013, the Southern Conference announced that it was extending an invitation for membership to the Buccaneers, effective July 1, 2014. ETSU accepted the invitation and joined Mercer and VMI in the conference, replacing Appalachian State, Davidson, Elon and Georgia Southern beginning in the league's 2014 season. The Buccaneers rejoined the league after a nine-year absence.


Bucky's background begins with the story of the East Tennessee State University nickname—the Buccaneers. A brief history begins with a Buccaneer, who once roamed a vast area which stretched from the Florida Keys northward. Johnson City, home of ETSU, is located among the mountains of Eastern Tennessee and is a great distance from the ocean. For this reason, one might wonder why ETSU would select a Buccaneer as their mascot. The answer is not that simple. Apparently, geologists and archaeologists teamed up and discovered an underground river near the university several years ago. Named Pirate Creek, it evidently winds its way through many tunnels. It is thought that these caverns at one time channeled all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Soon after this discovery, the legend of buccaneer, Jean Paul LeBucque was found in history books. The legend tells that LeBucque was a nuisance and terror. Evidently, he was looking for a place to hide his great store of gold and treasure, and find safety for himself. He sailed north in search of a new home and began to look inland. Legend states that he discovered the underground river near Johnson City and called Pirate Creek his home. Geologists feel that the upheaval of the earth's crust, which now blocks the channel, possibly killed LeBucque. This legend is widely accepted and is one way to explain why an inland school would choose a pirate nickname.[14]


  1. "Athletics - Identity East Tennessee State University". Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  2. "SoCon Adds ETSU, Mercer and VMI - SoConSports.com—Official Web Site of The Southern Conference". Soconsports.com. Retrieved 2015-07-18.
  3. "ETSUBucs.com". East Tennessee State University. Retrieved 27 October 2016.
  4. "Bucs head to Nashville for NCAA Regional". ETSUBucs.com. 2013-05-27. Retrieved 2015-07-18.
  5. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2015-06-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. Steve Forbes. "Steve Forbes - Men's Basketball Coaches - Official Site of East Tennessee State Athletics". Etsubucs.com. Retrieved 2015-07-18.
  7. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-03-18. Retrieved 2015-06-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. Brittney Ezell (2013-05-08). "Brittney Ezell - Women's Basketball Coaches - Official Site of East Tennessee State Athletics". Etsubucs.com. Retrieved 2015-07-18.
  9. http://www.bucfootball.com/history.html
  10. "Update: ETSU Student Government votes yes on football". Johnson City Press. 2013-01-29. Retrieved 2015-07-18.
  11. The Associated Press (2013-04-03). "Fulmer helping restart program at ETSU". NCAA.com. Retrieved 2015-07-18.
  12. The Associated Press (2013-06-21). "East Tennessee State hires Torbush as coach to rebuild football program". NCAA.com. Retrieved 2015-07-18.
  13. "ETSU Men's Golf – Statistical leaders and records" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 12, 2013.
  14. http://www.etsubucs.com/fanzone/buckybio/
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