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View from the East
Thursday, March 14, 2002

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Carr's Passing Stirs Fond Remembrances


Earl Smith’s recollections of Wendell Carr represent a different era in East Carolina athletics. Carr was Smith’s assistant coach for the Pirates in basketball for four years and then became head coach for three seasons after Smith became head baseball coach. Carr was head coach of the Pirates from the 1963-64 season until 1965-66, compiling a record of 32-40.

Carr died at age 71 in Buies Creek on Saturday. He had been director of athletics for 18 years at Campbell, retiring from that position after the 1991-92 school year.

A native of Muncie, Ind., Carr played basketball for coaches Murray Greason and Horace “Bones” McKinney at Wake Forest. Legend had it that Carr was on a train for a recruiting visit to N.C. State, which was coached by Everett Case, after Carr had served four years in the Navy. The train made a stop in Wake Forest in the days when the campus was in the town of Wake Forest and Carr never made it to Raleigh. Bones and the milkshakes at Holding Drug Store sold Carr on a scholarship with the Deacons.

McKinney, an ordained minister, married Carr and his wife, Susie, on March 26, 1956. The Wake Forest campus moved from the town of Wake Forest to Winston-Salem in 1956, and when Carr finished at Wake, he became a coach at newly-opened North Forsyth High School in Winston-Salem.

Smith, who lives in Fayetteville and will be 85 in May, hired Carr as his assistant at East Carolina from North Forsyth.

“I made a good selection,” Smith said. “We had four good years together. Wendell Carr was a good man and I was proud of myself. I considered Mel Thompson and Wendell for that job.”

Thompson, who had played at N.C. State, became an assistant to Norm Sloan at The Citadel and Carr came to East Carolina, where he earned a masters degree. When Sloan went to Florida, Smith recalled that Thompson became head coach at The Citadel.

“Our desks were in the same office and we shared a phone,” Smith said. “Wendell had a great basketball mind. Wendell and I did a lot of fishing. I gave him the first reel he ever owned and a reed out of my yard that he used for a rod. We’d go fishing a lot of nights. We’d drive down to Morehead City after practice and fish off the pier.

“We’d come back before we had to teach classes the next morning. When we’d go on a long recruiting trip, I’d drive 100 miles and then he’d drive 100 miles. We had a great relationship.”

Carr eventually went into athletics administration and ushered Campbell into Division I the year after the Camels reached the NAIA championship game in 1977. He helped found the Big South Conference and the Camels won the league’s commissioner’s cup before Carr retired in the summer of 1992. Carr helped start the Fighting Camels Booster Club.

“Wendell was a devout Christian athlete, who did an outstanding job directing our athletics program for 18 years,” said Campbell president, Norman A. Wiggins. “Not only was Wendell a role model for his coaches and players, but he was able to win support for our move into NCAA Division I. He was a great influence for good in college and university athletics.”

I had opportunities to spend some time with Wendell Carr when I covered Campbell athletics for The (Dunn) Daily Record from 1982 to 1987. He had a practical way of looking at things. I remember him talking about Brigham Young one time, a large Mormon university in Utah. Carr had played at Wake Forest and worked at Campbell, both historically-Baptist institutions.

“The Baptists have a lot of smaller schools,” he said. “ Can you imagine what it would be like if they had one large university like the Mormons have with Brigham Young?”

Carr also coached golf and tennis at East Carolina and Campbell. One of the last times I saw him was on the driving range at Keith Hills, the golf course near Campbell’s campus in Buies Creek. He was teaching a golf class. Both he and the students appeared to be enjoying themselves.

Honor for Crumpler   <<< Go to Top of Page >>>

The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame will enshrine seven new members, including former ECU star running back Carlester Crumpler, at the 39th annual induction ceremonies in Raleigh on May 15.

The inductees, in addition to Crumpler, who now works as an academic coordinator at ECU, include Tony Cloninger of Kings Mountain, Joe Ferebee of Misenheimer, Terry Holland of Charlottesville, Va., Jerry Steele of Greensboro, Doug Wilkerson of Rancho Sante Fe, Cal. and Dominque Wilkins of Atlanta, Ga.

The N.C. Sports Hall of Fame, with 201 members, was established in 1963 and is housed in the North Carolina museum of history in Raleigh. The 4,000-square foot exhibit includes sports memorabilia ranging from a Richard Petty race car to the Homestead Grays’ uniform worn by the late Walter "Buck" Leonard of Rocky Mount, who played baseball in the Negro National League.

Cloninger pitched 12 years in the major leagues with 24 wins with Milwaukee in 1964 and a World Series appearance with Cincinnati in 1970. Ferebee, a native of Mocksville, lettered in three sports at Catawba and went on to coach 41 years on the high school level, American Legion and at Pfeiffer College.

Holland was a three-sport star at Clinton High School and a member of Lefty Driesell's championship teams at Davidson. Holland led the nation in field goal percentage in 1969 in Davidson's 22-4 season. He won five Southern Conference championships as basketball coach at Davidson.

Holland became Virginia’s head coach in 1974 and won 326 games in 16 years, including the ACC Tournament in 1976. He was ACC coach of the year twice. He recently retired at director of athletics at Virginia.

Steele has been a college basketball coach for 38 years, the past 30 at High Point. He has over 600 wins and is a member of the NAIA Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame. He played for “Bones” McKinney at Wake Forest.

Wilkerson played high school football in Fayetteville, then for North Carolina Central University. He played 14 years in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers and was a Pro Bowl selection several times.

Wilkins, who was born in Paris, France, played high school basketball in Washington, N.C., leading the Pam Pack to two state 3-A titles. After an outstanding college career at Georgia, Wilkins was a nine-time NBA All-Star forward. He was one of nine NBA players who had scored over 25,000 points when he retired from the NBA.

Crumpler led Wilson Fike to three straight 4-A football championships from 1967-69. He is currently third on ECU’s career rushing list with 2,889 yards. He played for the Buffalo Bills after winning Southern Conference athlete of the year in 1972. His sons, Carlester Jr. and Alge, have both played in the NFL.

The museum, which houses the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and on Sunday from noon until 5:00 p.m. Admission is free.

No Staff Changes Planned   <<< Go to Top of Page >>>

There was a lot of speculation that there might be some coaching staff changes at East Carolina after the Pirates went 6-6 in 2001, were last in Conference USA in pass defense and failed to hold a 30-point lead in the GMAC Bowl. Coach Steve Logan said after the bowl game that he felt that his coaches were good teachers but that an evaluation would be made on what the staff was teaching. Logan felt schematic changes, not staff changes were the answer.

The staff remained intact through spring ball as defensive coordinator Tim Rose implemented some changes, particularly in the secondary and in terms of personnel.

If there are any staff changes, they apparently will not be initiated by Logan.

“Our assistant coaches’ contracts are February to February and have already been renewed,” said the Pirates coach. “So that’s a non-issue.”

That doesn’t mean other schools may not be interested in hiring ECU coaches.

“We may have one or two who feel they have a better opportunity somewhere else,” Logan said. “That often happens and sometimes new blood is good for a staff. Most times when new coaches have come to our staff they’ve brought something with them that added to our program. You don’t want so much turnover that you lose continuity but sometimes a little change can be beneficial.”

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02/23/2007 12:58:50 AM

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