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College Sports in the Carolinas

View from the East
Thursday, September 5, 2002

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Board's action influenced by present and future


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 morning kickoff.

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 Athletics
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 future.

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.

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02/23/2007 12:59:30 AM

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