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College Sports in the Carolinas

View from the East
Thursday, August 7, 2003

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Muse enlists potent help in conference sweepstakes

©2003 Bonesville.net

REALIGNMENT IN THE NEWS
   
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For those who believe it's who you know, East Carolina's prospects for improved league affiliation have taken an upward turn. Or maybe that should be expressed as a Southeastern turn, with a Tallahassee twist thrown in for good measure.

ECU chancellor William Muse has known Roy Kramer, the original power broker of the Bowl Championship Series, from when Muse was president at Auburn and Kramer was commissioner of the SEC. Muse was president of the SEC his last two years at Auburn before he came to ECU and worked closely with Kramer.

With the Pirates preparing to present themselves in the best possible light to conferences with an automatic berth in the BCS, Muse has enlisted Kramer as a consultant and proactive representative on ECU's behalf.

"He's agreed to work with us to put East Carolina in the best possible situation in terms of conference affiliation," Muse said on Wednesday. "He seems to be very enthusiastic about that and we certainly value his advice and assistance."

Muse and Kramer were on a committee that studied the feasibility of a playoff in college football. The prospect of NCAA control of such a possible playoff system prompted Kramer to organize the conferences that eventually formed the BCS. Kramer negotiated with television interests to secure the financial rewards that have effectively divided the ranks in the college game into the haves and have-nots.

He's an influential presence and valuable ally for the Pirates.

"Roy Kramer can get in front of a lot of important people," said ECU athletics director Mike Hamrick.

The grass is hardly growing beneath Muse's feet as he continues his quest to move the Pirates into position to compete on the highest level in college football. The chancellor and major ECU booster Walter Williams had a luncheon earlier this week at the Murphy Center, which featured a special guest appearance by Florida State athletics director Dave Hart, formerly ECU's AD. Hart was in Greenville to visit family.

About 20 prominent ECU supporters were on hand.

"Mainly everybody was interested in conference alignment," Muse said. "I thought Dave did an excellent job. He's still very well respected by everybody who knew him personally when he was here."

Muse got to know Hart from the Bowden Classic, a golf tournament put on by FSU coach Bobby Bowden and son, Terry, then the coach at Auburn. The event was staged alternate years in Tallahassee and in the Auburn area.

"Dave mainly talked about the Big East and not as much about the ACC," Muse said. "He said clearly that we need to market ECU's assets, both in terms of our strength in football and try to address the issue of our media market."

Muse said Hart emphasized the importance of numbers in terms of Pirate Club membership and season ticket sales to demonstrate a strong fan base.

"That's very significant in terms of other schools we may be compared to in the conference affiliation process," Muse said.

The Thompson touch

By the time some of you read this, ECU's returning football players will be on the field for a workout at 8:45 this morning. Incoming players are scheduled to practice at 5 p.m.

New football coach John Thompson plans for the players to stay at the City Hotel and Bistro, formerly the Ramada Inn, according to my recollection, on Greenville Boulevard for the first 10 days of preseason practice.

"We will literally eat, sleep and breathe the same air together for 10 days," said the first-year Pirates coach. "It has to do with chemistry and bonding. They don't need their cars. They just need to eat well, rest well, study well and practice well."

Thompson wants to start a tradition of Pirate fans forming a human tunnel from the team bus to the ECU locker room entrance at the back of the Ward Sports Medicine Building two hours before home games.

"We want to let our people see our team and let our team see our people," Thompson said. "Hopefully it will be a motivating force for both groups."

Hamrick does Vegas

ECU athletics director Mike Hamrick returned on Wednesday from two days of extensive interviews at Nevada-Las Vegas for the Rebels' vacant athletics director's position. Other finalists include Wayne Hogan of Montana and Mike Bohn of Idaho. Hogan made a strong impression in an interview last week, according to sources, and Bohn is scheduled to visit Vegas next week.

"I was identified by an executive search firm and was invited to come out, look around and visit with them," Hamrick said. "At this point, that's all there is."

Hamrick worked at UNLV in 1981 in athletics promotions and said the campus has expanded significantly since that time. It's back to business at ECU for the time being, including finalizing the Pirates' 2003-04 men's basketball schedule. UNLV president Carol Harter may make a decision by mid-August.

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02/22/2007 11:53:51 PM
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