Buccaneers Highlights

General Information

NCAA Division: Division I
Conference: Southern Conference
Past Conferences: Ohio Valley Conference, Atlantic Sun Conference
City: Johnson City, Tennessee
Arena: Freedom Hall Civic Center
NCAA Tournaments: 10 (1968, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2017)


National Championships – 0
Conference Titles – 11 (1968, 1990, 1991, 1992, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2017, 2020)

Team History

East Tennessee State recognizes 1918-19 as the first year the school had a basketball team, even though there were no official games; these didn’t occur until the following season. The Buccaneers had the standard ups and downs of college basketball until 1948-49 when Madison Brooks took over the program. ETSU went 184-61 in his first nine seasons and competed in the NAIA Tournament in 1953, 1954 and 1957.

The Buccaneers made the jump to Division I for the 1958-59 season and labored a little under Brooks, but he did lead the team to a share of first place in the Ohio Valley Conference in 1968, earning the team’s first berth to the NCAA Tournament.

ETSU moved to the Southern Conference for the 1978-79 season and had a run of four straight conference tournament championships between 1989-1992. The Buccaneers made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2003 and 2004 and moved to the Atlantic Sun Conference for the 2005-06 season. ETSU made the NCAA Tournament in 2009 and 2010.

The Buccaneers rejoined the Southern Conference before the 2014-15 season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2017. East Tennessee State won the Southern Conference Tournament in 2020 but the NCAA Tournament was canceled due to COVID-19. ETSU has also appeared in the NIT (1983, 2007), CIT (2011, 2014, 2019) and was one of eight teams to play in the Vegas 16 postseason tournament in 2016. The tournament lasted just one year.

East Tennessee State Buccaneers All-Time Records

Points Scored

Tim Smith, 2,300
Greg Dennis, 2,204
Courtney Pigram, 2,043


Tommy Woods, 1,034
Herb Weaver, 1,015
Tom Chilton, 963


Keith Jennings, 983
Tim Smith, 508
Courtney Pigram, 416

ETSU Buccaneers FAQs

How Did East Tennessee State Get To Be Called the Buccaneers?

Even though Johnson City, Tennessee is a long way from the ocean, geologists and archaeologists found an underground river near the university, named Pirate Creek. It is said Buccaneer Jean Paul LeBucque found the underground river and settled near Johnson City.

Has ETSU Always Been Called the Buccaneers?

East Tennessee State took the Buccaneers name in 1935. Before that, the teams were known as “The Teachers,” as ETSU was once the state teacher’s college.

How Many ETSU Players Have Played in the NBA?

Despite having a fair amount of success over the years, Keith Jennings is the lone Buccaneer to have played in the NBA. Jennings played for Golden State for three seasons, averaging 6.7 points and 3.7 assists per game.

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