On Friday, April 6, ETSU Buccaneers head football coach Randy Sanders was reinstated to his position following disciplinary action.

Randy Sanders, ETSU head football coach
(Photograph contributed / ETSU Bucs)

Sanders will receive a letter of reprimand. In addition, one week of his pay will be surrendered.


This development followed Sanders’ April 2 placement on administrative leave. At the time, ETSU officials could only say that his leave was due to a potential violation of university policy.


Following the Friday announcement of Sanders’ reinstatement, it became clear that previous allegations that he had struck a player in the helmet were true.

Toward the end of the March 30 Buccaneers football practice, Sanders criticized one of his players for a poor play. This criticism led to a confrontation between the two individuals in which Sanders slapped the player on the helmet. Sanders tried to apologize, but the upset player walked off the field unabated.

After the incident, Sanders apologized to the rest of the team and took it upon himself to report the incident to administration, including Athletics Director Scott Carter.  Sanders reportedly described his conduct toward the player as a “very bad mistake.”


Sanders released the following statement in the afternoon of Friday, April 6:


“Last week, I responded to a situation with poor judgment towards the end of practice. I immediately apologized to the player directly involved and to my team, and contacted my athletic director to explain everything that happened. Since that time, I have cooperated freely and fully with the university and its review of the situation. I accept the decision by the university and recognize that through my role I have an obligation to lead by example. As I said back in December, I am truly grateful to be your coach and I am thankful for the opportunity given to me by our President Dr. Noland and Athletic Director Scott Carter. I look forward to returning to the sideline. Go Bucs!”


Sanders is the 18th head coach in the history of the Bucs football program. He has held the position since Dec. 17, 2017, having been hired to replace the retiring Carl Torbush.


Sanders began his coaching career at the University of Tennessee in 1989. During his 17 years of coaching, the Vols compiled a record of 162-46-2.


Prior to coming to ETSU, Sanders held assistant coaching positions at the University of Kentucky and Florida State University.

The Bucs wrapped up spring practice with their annual Blue-Gold Game Thursday, April 5.

ETSU opens the 2018 season against Mars Hill on a date yet to announced. The Bucs then make the trip to Neyland Stadium to take on Tennessee Sept. 8