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Vols’ Oliver Hired by ETSU, Leaving a Lasting Impact On and Off the Court

Oliver ETSU

Oliver, now head coach at ETSU, helped leave a lasting impact both on and off the court.

After gaining experience at the Division-1 level for nearly 30 years, including the last six seasons at Tennessee, Vols’ assistant coach Desmond Oliver has officially been hired as the next head of the ETSU men’s basketball program.

According to Jeff Goodman of Stadium, East Tennessee State has officially made their hire and expects to hold a press conference on Monday to make the announcement.

Oliver, formerly with Tennessee, will take the ETSU head coaching job after Jason Shay resigned from the position at the end of March.

For Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes, this is now the second assistant coach that he will have to replace in the 2021 offseason. Kim English was named the next George Mason head coach in March, although his replacement may have already been found.

According to Grant Ramey of GoVols247, “Austin Peay assistant coach Roderick Clark is expected to be English’s replacement on the Vols’ staff”.

Oliver was brought onto the Tennessee staff in 2015 and has helped the Vols reach three consecutive tournament appearances. He also helped lead the Vols to the Sweet Sixteen in 2019.

In 2017, Oliver and Barnes were involved in a Level-III NCAA violation. However, it was one that was done with good intention and without knowledge of the rule.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinal, Barnes took exception to the fact that Desmond Oliver was making less money than his counterpart assistant at the time, Michael Schwartz.

So, without any way to get more money out of the university budget, Barnes went ahead and paid Oliver the amount in-between himself. The violation was self-reported by Barnes.

“It was important to me that Des Oliver made the same amount of money as” his fellow assistant Michael Schwartz, Barnes said in an interview with the USA Today Network. “I just felt those two positions needed to be equal. They felt it wasn’t in the budget. I just said, ‘I am going to pay it myself.’”

Since then, Oliver did receive his pay raise for the next budget, and Barnes has remained a proponent of raising his assistants’ salaries. The equality of pay amongst the assistant coaches on Tennessees’ staff is balanced now, but clearly hasn’t always been. Desmond Oliver was certainly justified as he would end up being the straw that broke the camel’s back for Tennessee.

Prior to his time at Tennessee, Oliver has had an extensive career in college basketball.

Oliver spent time as an assistant coach at Niagra (1994-97), Texas A&M (1997-98), Cornell (98-2000), St. Bonaventure (2000-01), Rhode Island (2001-04), Georgia (2004-2009), Canisius (2009-10), Charlotte (2010-15), and Tennessee (2015-2021).

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