After what Dennis Young, executive director of the Pirate Club, termed a
“flat year” in terms of fund-raising, the former East Carolina football
player is encouraged about the potential for improvement as ECU’s banquet
circuit shifts into full gear this month.
“We’re looking at 2003 as another building year for us,” Young said on
Wednesday. “We’ve had five Pirate Club banquets and with people responding
to Coach John Thompson’s enthusiasm we’re having record crowds.”
There were 315 on hand for a gathering in Wilson last week.
The Pirate Club’s goal is 8,650 members this year and 10,000 members by
2006. Young said reaching the 10,000-member plateau would translate into
being able to fully fund athletics scholarships at ECU, which has long been
a goal of the fund-raising group.
ECU has 19 sports with a potential of 248 scholarships in those sports.
Presently, 212 of those grants are funded and the Pirate Club provides
funding for 76 percent of those scholarships. Cost of an athletics
scholarship at ECU varies depending on whether it involves in-state or
out-of-state tuition, but Young said average cost of a grant is $14,800. To
fully fund all 248 scholarships based on that figure, requires about $3.67
Young said it’s important for Pirates fans to support the Pirate Club.
“Our athletics budget is $16 million a year,” Young said. “The average
athletics budget at a Division I-A school is $21 million. There are seven
schools in Conference USA with larger athletics budgets than ECU and that’s
the challenge. Do we want our teams to be seventh in Conference USA? No, we
don’t. So we need to fully fund scholarships.”
The 24 percent of the scholarships that the Pirate Club isn’t presently
funding are paid for out of the athletics budget, which has sources of
revenue that include season and game ticket sales, television revenue and
A generally-slow economy contributed to the Pirate Club falling below its
membership goal last year. But Thompson’s presence is having a positive
effect this year.
“He comes early and he stays late,” said ECU athletics director Mike
Hamrick of Thompson.
“It’s been good and regenerating to say the least,” Young said.
Thompson wanted to speak at all of the PC outings this year so the
schedule was consolidated from 32 banquets to19.
“Coach Thompson’s number one point is that he’s glad to be a Pirate,”
Young said. “He wants to be here and looks at the head coaching job as a
great opportunity to be successful. He’s not making promises but he’s not
afraid of the schedule. He feels it has great potential.
“He says everything our members want to hear. It’s very refreshing from
the standpoint of spring practice. He wants fans involved and he wants their
In addition to Pirate Club members, known alumni in upcoming banquet
areas are being sent information about the dinners featuring the new
Here is a schedule of upcoming gatherings:
- March 20 — Pitt County at Harvey Hall of the Murphy Center in
- April 3 — Lenoir/Wayne Counties at Walnut Creek Country Club
- April 10 — Craven/Carteret in New Bern
- April 14 — Cumberland/Harnett in Fayetteville
- April 15 — Onslow/Jones in Jacksonville
- April 24 — Wake/Orange/Durham/Johnston near RDU Airport
- April 26 — Atlanta area
- April 28 — Charlotte area
- April 30 — Tidewater, Va.
- May 1 — Cape Fear area in Wilmington
- May 5 — Richmond, Va.
- May 6 — Washington, D.C.
- May 21 — Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point, Alamance County
- July 31 — Beaufort County/Washington, N.C.
The number to call for more information on the banquets is the Pirate
Club at (252) 328-4540.
Men’s basketball coach Bill Herrion will be joining the banquet tour for
12 to 14 stops, Young said.
“We had a flat year in annual fund-giving last year even though we
reached the goal of $6 million for the baseball stadium,” Young said. “The
economy had an impact on fund-raising and there were some external things
beyond our control that contributed to a flat year. But we feel we have a
tremendous opportunity in 2003.”
Young doesn’t anticipate that the Pirate Club will have significant
increases in operating expenses, which means that new money should go
directly to scholarship support.