JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — East Tennessee State University’s (ETSU) George Quarles era is over after two identical 3-8 seasons.
The school fired Quarles Sunday, a day after the Bucs’ 35-23 win over 0-10 Citadel. He was two years into a five-year contract and will receive a $400,000 buyout.
A release from ETSU Athletics Director Dr. Richard Sander said the university’s athletics program has “decided to go in a different direction.” A national search will begin immediately for the program’s next head coach, the release said.
“I met with Coach Quarles earlier today and informed him that we have decided to go in a different direction with the program,” said Dr. Sander. “I appreciate all that Coach Quarles has done for our student-athletes, ETSU and the community. We wish him and his family the best.”
Quarles released a statement to WJHL on Sunday afternoon saying, “I’m thankful for the opportunity at ETSU. It’s a bottom line business and we didn’t win enough games. I wish nothing but the best for the program.”
The Buccaneers just couldn’t get over the hump in either of Quarles’ two seasons, which started after a 2021 campaign under Randy Sanders that saw the team reach the second round of the FCS playoffs after a thrilling first-round victory over Kennesaw State. That 2021 team beat Vanderbilt to start a historic 11-2 season that included a 7-1 Southern Conference record.
Sanders retired after that season and the team turned to Quarles, who had been a top assistant at his alma mater, Furman, from 2017 through 2021 after winning multiple state championships at Maryville High School in Tennessee. ETSU hired him at a base salary of $225,000, which was the same rate Sanders was being paid.
Despite being an offensive coach, Quarles proved unable to get the ETSU offense untracked this season. The team averaged fewer than 20 points per game in the conference after having averaged more than 28 per conference game in his first year.
Quarles’ predecessor Sanders took ETSU to two playoff appearances during his four-year stint when the team posted an overall record of 26-16 and a conference mark of 14-11. Quarles’ two-year record was 6-16, with a conference record of 3-13.