Steve Forbes is the 16th head coach in ETSU history, which was announced on March 30, 2015.
Forbes enters his fifth season with the Buccaneers in 2019-20, and has totaled 100 wins and a .719 win percentage in his first four seasons. He holds the 17th highest win percentage among current NCAA Division I head coaches.
For his career, Forbes has totaled 266 wins during his 11 season as a head coach, which includes stops at ETSU, Northwest Florida State, Barton County Community College and Southwestern Community College. Forbes has also had stints as an assistant coach at Wichita State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Illinois State, Louisiana Tech and Idaho.
Under Forbes’ watch, ETSU has reached historic heights as the 100 wins over the last four seasons is a program record, while the four straight 20-plus win seasons has only been accomplished one other time in school history. Forbes earned his 100th career win at ETSU against Chattanooga in the quarterfinals of the Southern Conference Tournament back on March 9, 2019. With the milestone win, Forbes joined an elite group as only 10 current active Division I head coaches have reached the 100-win mark in their first four seasons – Shaka Smart, Eric Musselman, Brad Underwood, Josh Pastner, Jamie Dixon, Mark Few, Steve Prohm, Roy Williams, Mike White, Chris Beard and Jim Boeheim.
In his four seasons at the helm, Forbes has coached 10 all-Southern Conference selections, including Desonta Bradford earning Player of the Year and Bo Hodges claiming Freshman of the Year honors in 2017-18.
This past season the Buccaneers totaled 24 wins en route to making their third postseason appearances in the last four seasons by playing in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. ETSU rattled off eight straight wins from Dec. 21 – Jan. 17, which included the Bucs becoming the just the 25th team to win the prestigious Sun Bowl Invitational and 17th to capture the title in their first appearance following wins over Wyoming and Norfolk State. Following the 2018-19 season, Forbes was named a finalist for the Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award and the Hugh Durham Award.
The Buccaneers posted a 25-win campaign in 2017-18, including a 16-game win streak, which tied a program record and also stood as the longest win streak in the country at one point during that run. The Blue and Gold also tied a program record with 11 true road wins a year ago on their way to a third consecutive appearance in the Southern Conference Tournament championship game.
In 2016-17, Forbes and his staff added to the winning tradition of the Buccaneers’ program, earning the team’s 10th trip all-time to the NCAA Tournament with a victory over UNCG in the finals of the Southern Conference Tournament. The victory marked a championship sweep for the Bucs, who also claimed a share of the regular season title after going 27-8 overall and 14-4 in SoCon play. The Bucs’ 27 wins matched the second-highest total in school history and gave ETSU 51 victories overall in Forbes’ two seasons in Johnson City – the most wins by any team in the Southern Conference during that time frame. For his efforts, Forbes was named the NABC District 22 Coach of the Year.
Forbes and his staff wasted little time reinvigorating the ETSU program during his first season with the Buccaneers, combining an energetic style of play, an engaging approach with the fan base, and plenty of success on the court. In all, the Bucs finished the 2015-16 season with 24 wins – which marks the program’s third highest win total in the modern era – and collected 14 victories in Southern Conference play, which is second only to the 15 collected by the Bucs’ 2003-04 squad. ETSU also reached the Southern Conference Tournament finals, which marked the 12th time the program has played in a conference championship game, and the team also earned a postseason tournament berth for the 14th time with an invite to the inaugural Vegas 16 Tournament.
Prior to ETSU, he served two seasons as an assistant coach at Wichita State where he helped take the Shockers to the Sweet 16 in 2014-15. When the Bucs hired Forbes following the 2014-15 season, then ETSU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Richard Sander said 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 the perfect fit for ETSU.
At Wichita State, Forbes helped coach the Shockers to two of the most successful seasons in program history.
Wichita State went 30-5 on the season and recorded its third consecutive season of 30 wins or more. The No. 7-seeded Shockers advanced to the Sweet 16 before falling to No. 3 seed and ACC champion Notre Dame.
In 2013-14, Wichita State won a NCAA record 35-straight games before losing to eventual National Runner-up Kentucky in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. The Shockers’ 35-1 record also shattered all of WSU’s and the MVC’s winning streak records, including Indiana State’s 33-game record in 1977. WSU entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed, a first for the program.
Forbes came to Wichita State from Northwest Florida State, where he coached the Raiders to a 61-6 record during his two-year tenure in Niceville, Fla. Five of his junior college players recently transferred to Division I schools in the offseason.
In the five seasons at Tennessee, Forbes helped coach the Vols to an average of 26 wins per year, and advanced to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments – making three Sweet Sixteen appearances and advancing to the program’s first-ever Elite Eight in 2010.
The Vols won a school-record 31 games in 2008, and their 14-2 league record gave the program its first outright SEC championship in more than 40 years. Following a 66-62 win at top-ranked Memphis on Feb. 23, 2008, UT earned the first No. 1 ranking in school history.
Forbes’ experience also helped Tennessee’s 2006, 2008 and 2010 recruiting classes to a top 10 national ranking by multiple ratings services.
Forbes came to Tennessee after spending two seasons at Texas A&M, where he helped turn the Aggies from a team that had posted a 7-21 record the previous season and hadn’t received a postseason invitation in 11 years, to a program that averaged more than 21 wins in his two seasons and advanced to postseason play both years.
A&M posted back-to-back seasons with the most Big 12 Conference wins in school history with Forbes on the bench. Picked to finish last in the Big 12 prior to the 2004-05 season, the Aggies won their first 11 games and went on to a 21-10 record and made an appearance in the National Invitation Tournament. In 2005-06, Texas A&M advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1987 while recording a 22-9 record, the third-most wins in school history. The Aggies defeated Syracuse in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to eventual Final Four participant LSU on a last-second shot.
Texas A&M’s recruiting also benefited from Forbes’ experience, as each of the Aggie’s two recruiting classes during his time in College Station were ranked among the top 10 in the nation.
Before joining Billy Gillispie’s coaching staff at Texas A&M, Forbes coached at Illinois State (2003-04) and spent three years at Louisiana Tech (2000-03), where he helped sign two nationally-ranked recruiting classes, including a top-10 class in 2003. In 2002 the Bulldogs posted a 22-10 record and went 2-1 in the National Invitation Tournament, their first postseason appearance in 10 years.
In 1998 Forbes joined the Idaho coaching staff as an assistant coach before being promoted to associate head coach for the 1998-99 season. In his first season, the Vandals improved to 16-11 and signed a nationally-ranked recruiting class.
Forbes compiled a 68-28 record in three years (1995-98) as the head coach at Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kan.
During his three seasons competing in the Jayhawk Conference, the Cougars produced three All-Americas, twice finished the season with a national ranking and earned victories over 15 nationally-ranked teams.
After spending two years (1989-91) as an assistant coach at Southwestern Community College in Creston, Iowa, Forbes was promoted to head coach in March 1991.
A native of Lone Tree, Iowa, Forbes graduated from Southern Arkansas University with a degree in secondary education in 1988. A former baseball student-athlete for the Muleriders, Forbes spent one year at his alma mater as the sports information director before embarking on a coaching career.
Forbes and his wife Johnetta have three children, Elizabeth, Christopher and Johnathon.