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View from the East
Thursday, March 13, 2003

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Pirate Club gets boost from high-energy Thompson

©2003 Bonesville.net

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 million annually.

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 student fees.

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 support.”

In addition to Pirate Club members, known alumni in upcoming banquet areas are being sent information about the dinners featuring the new football coach.

Here is a schedule of upcoming gatherings:

  • March 20 — Pitt County at Harvey Hall of the Murphy Center in Greenville
  • 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.

Adams-Hamrick note

As reported earlier, Charlie Adams, executive director of the N.C. High School Athletics Association, and Mike Hamrick, athletics director at East Carolina, had some meaningful dialogue during the Eastern regional high school basketball tournament that should improve the relationship that deteriorated when ECU had its football game with Cincinnati rescheduled for Friday, Dec. 6, in conflict with the high school playoffs. Adams was generally pleased with his trip to Greenville. The only problem he encountered was a speeding ticket on his return home.

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02/23/2007 12:40:55 AM
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