East Tennessee State head coach Randy Sanders, a longtime assistant at Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida State, was suspended Monday morning — a few days before his first spring game at ETSU.
The school announced that Sanders had been placed on paid administrative leave “pending the investigation of potential violation of university policy.” ETSU did not provide specifics, but it was reported later Monday by the Johnson City Press that Sanders hit a player during practice.
The player in question, according to two people close to the program, is Tyree Robinson, a freshman defensive back from Gainesville, Georgia. Sanders allegedly hit Robinson in the helmet during Friday’s practice when the player failed to take a knee during a drill.
Sanders was allowed to coach the team’s second scrimmage on Saturday and seemed generally upbeat about the performance.
Before being hired to replace Carl Torbush as ETSU’s head coach in December, Sanders spent five seasons as the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Jimbo Fisher at Florida State. He also coached at Kentucky from 2006 to 2012, first as the quarterbacks coach and then as offensive coordinator for his last four seasons in Lexington.
Prior to joining the staff at UK, he was an assistant at his alma mater, Tennessee, from 1989 to 2005 in a variety of offensive roles. Sanders, 52, was a backup quarterback for the Vols from 1984-1988.
The ETSU job is Sanders’ first head-coaching gig.
ETSU is set to play its spring game at 7 p.m. on Thursday night — presumably without Sanders on the sideline.
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