ETSU Basketball’s Pursuit of Chris Jans an Example of the Buccaneers Culture Change

Marky Billson
5 min readMay 5, 2020

Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of East Tennessee State’s current athletic administration is they’ve done a pretty good job at making fans forget how bad it was before they arrived.

To be fair, from a competitive standpoint the Buccaneers were not a woe begotten cellar dweller under athletic director David Mullins.

But they played in a remedial conference, had no football team, losing baseball and softball teams, their tennis coach wound up being a thief and, perhaps worst of all, were a bunch of prudes.

Perhaps no greater example of this came in 2006 when cheerleader Kimberly Sams was kicked off the Buccaneers’ cheerleading squad due to her job as a Hooters waitress.

To make matters worse, the cheerleader director who kicked Sams off the team, Tammy Bartow, was the head basketball coach’s wife.

This story is recalled because of the supposed interest ETSU has in hiring Chris Jans as head men’s basketball coach.

Jans has an 83–17 record at New Mexico State

Because although Jans has won Western Athletic Conference championship at New Mexico State for three straight years, and despite never winning fewer than 20 games in any of his 10 seasons as a head basketball coach, that’s not what one thinks of with Jans.

They think of the time five years ago Jans, then 45 and married with two children, got drunk at a bar and acted in a manner around women deemed so inappropriate it cost him his head coaching position at Bowling Green.

That’s quite the cultural shift for ETSU athletic administration.

And so all the things that should be asked, such as if Jans or current interim head coach Jason Shay would be a better fit for the Bucs, or if this is a ploy for Jans to get more money from the Aggies or for ETSU to be able to get Shay to accept a contract for less, or if former coach Steve Forbes is trying to choose his successor aren’t being asked.

Instead, Bucs fans and administration are asking:

  • Five years after getting kicked out of Ohio, would Jans be accepted in a Tennessee Bible Belt stronghold?
  • After a 30–4 season and Southern Conference championship, should…