Although East Carolina football coach Steve Logan preaches maintaining
focus despite distractions, the furor from high school interests over the
Friday night football situation inevitably and understandably impacted his
thoughts since the issue broke in late July.
Hopefully, that disruption — as well as what was viewed by
the coach as a slight worthy of speaking up about in the way the decision was implemented
— got its final definition on Wednesday afternoon and
the negative focus that has been directed on the Pirates can be removed.
In case you’ve been in some sort of isolated situation since then, the
matter involves ECU rescheduling its home football game with Cincinnati from
Saturday, Nov. 2 to Friday night, Dec. 6.
ECU athletics director Mike Hamrick had stated last year that ECU would
not play on Friday nights after the Pirates were originally scheduled to
play Southern Miss the night after Thanksgiving. The NCHSAA had a reaction
of protest but the matter was eased when that game was later moved to a
But as circumstances would have it, Conference USA’s television contract
dumped a Friday night game in Hamrick’s lap again this year and a public
relations nightmare unfolded.
It’s been verified that Hamrick had little choice. C-USA commissioner
Dennis Halsel and Dave Brown, director of programming and acquisitions for
the ESPN networks, have confirmed that.
Moving the Cincinnati-ECU game also enabled the Bearcats to play a
televised Thursday night game at Louisville on Nov. 7. Moving the game also
more than made financial sense for the Pirates athletic budget.
Resolution Adopted by the
Committee of the Board of Trustees
East Carolina University is supportive of high school football
and will not make a practice of playing football games on
Friday nights. We also support Athletics Director Mike Hamrick
in his request that Conference USA not require East Carolina
University to participate in future Friday evening football
games. In the event that circumstances dictate a future Friday
night football appearance, a decision will be made only after
the Athletics Director consults with the Head Football Coach,
the Chancellor, the North Carolina High School Athletic
Association and the Athletics Committee of the East Carolina
University Board of Trustees. East Carolina University has
always had an excellent relationship with the North Carolina
high schools and coaches and we look forward to not only
maintaining but enhancing this relationship as we move to the
Although Hamrick apparently conferred with chancellor William Muse before
the move was made, he did not give Logan a heads-up, apparently a violation
of the coach’s contract, which states that he should be involved in
rescheduling, even though Hamrick has final authority.
Logan also has concerns about the date change on what has become a big
recruiting weekend for the Pirates the first weekend in December.
The athletics committee of the board of trustees, chaired by Danny Kinlaw,
was concerned that ECU’s integrity had been breached by the apparent
reversal in policy.
The N.C. High School Athletics Association has been singular in its
reaction against ECU, although N.C. State has a televised home basketball
game on Friday night, Nov. 22, when more high school football teams will
actually be playing. NCHSAA director Charlie Adams, a member of the ECU hall
of fame, distinguishes between a college football and college basketball
game although it seems that both would be detrimental in terms of high
school football gates.
Southern Durham, High Point Central and Williamston expressed bans of ECU
recruiters on their campuses in reaction to ECU playing on Friday night.
Williamston’s ban was removed when Martin County school superintendent Tom
Daly said that Tigers coach Harold Robinson did not have that authority.
South Carolina high school officials have also reportedly encouraged that
state's coaches to take steps that would effectively put their campuses off
limits to Pirate recruiters.
The athletics committee of the board of trustees met in room 254 of the
Mendenhall Student Center on Wednesday afternoon and went into closed
session. What emerged was a proposed resolution that will go to the entire
board at its next meeting on Oct. 18.
The proposed resolution states that ECU has a preference of not playing
on Friday nights and supports Hamrick’s request to C-USA not to schedule the
Pirates for games on Friday nights. The proposed resolution also deals with
the possibility that ECU could be confronted with playing on Friday night
again because of C-USA’s 8-year, $80 million contract with ESPN. In that
case, according to the proposed resolution, the athletics director must
consult with the head football coach, the chancellor, the athletics
committee of the board of trustees and the NCHSAA to make them aware of the
situation before a decision is made and announced.
The proposed resolution says that ECU has enjoyed a good relationship
with high school athletics and looks forward to enhancing that relationship
in the future.
The board's action follows by one day the report that Palmetto State high
school coaches were moving toward sanctions against college programs who are
playing on Friday night. The Pirates are not alone in that regard. Oklahoma
and Tulsa played last Friday night on ESPN and Hawaii and Brigham Young are
scheduled for this Friday night.
ECU currently has just one player from South Carolina on its roster,
back-up quarterback Desmond Robinson. That compares to 71 Pirates on the
squad from North Carolina.
Hopefully, the proposed resolution will soothe some of the ill will
generated by the date change and provide direction for handling the
situation if its arises again. And hopefully, it won’t.