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College Sports in the Carolinas

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View from the East
Monday, November 24, 2003

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

NCHSAA pegs bigger regional role for ECU

©2003 Bonesville.net

Charlie Adams, executive director of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, wants to play selected Eastern regional football championships at East Carolina’s Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in 2004 and 2005.

Adams played basketball at ECU in the late 1950s and was inducted into the ECU hall of fame in 1991. He discussed his hope for making ECU a regional hub for several sports with a number of ECU officials when he attended this year’s hall of fame weekend as the Pirates played Louisville in football on Oct. 25.

Greenville already hosts the Eastern regional basketball playoffs — girls playing at Greenville Rose and boys at Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum. In addition to football, Adams would like to eventually bring high school baseball, volleyball, wrestling and maybe even regional cheerleading competition to ECU.

Facilities at ECU, lodging and restaurants for teams and fans, and access to Greenville are all positive from Adams’ viewpoint.

The matter was discussed in regional meetings of NCHSAA members and last week by the NCHSAA board of directors. Adams sent a letter to ECU officials such as Pirate Club executive director Dennis Young, incoming Pirate Club president John Hudson, interim athletics director Nick Floyd, director of operations J.J. McLamb and special projects administrator Lee Workman on Thursday.

“When I hear back from them we’ll get our calendars out and set up a time to talk,” Adams said.

Adams said he has also talked to John Thompson about his plan and the ECU football coach was receptive. Holding games at ECU would bring prospective athletes and students to the Greenville campus. North Carolina, N.C. State, Wake Forest and Duke will host state football championships the weekend of Dec. 6-7.

Adams has said ECU’s location is prohibitive for hosting state championships but he sees great potential in Greenville as a regional hub for a variety of sports. Adams said the NCHSAA wants to do football for two years at ECU and make an evaluation on how well things went.

The NCHSAA has eight different brackets in high school football playoffs. Adams wants to bring four of those to ECU next year. A decision on which games would be played next season in Greenville would be made about two weeks before the playing dates, Adams said. There would be one game on a Friday night and three on Saturday. Adams said the four divisions that don’t play in Greenville next season would probably play at ECU the following year.

Adams said one advantage of the proposal would be eliminating home field advantage for the regional championships, which the higher-seeded team presently enjoys.

“It gives us a level playing field,” Adams said of using ECU as a neutral site.

The NCHSAA chief said it also will prepare the regional champions for playing in college stadiums for the state championship the following week. If the format is deemed successful in the East, Adams said the NCHSAA will examine potential sites for regional finals in the West.

For the plan to be implemented, cost of the games at ECU would have to be underwritten. That likely means corporate sponsorship. Adams said cost would be about $5,000 per team for expenses. With eight teams involved in four games, that would mean a $40,000 commitment. That’s the same sort of financial deal that’s happening this year in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Winston-Salem.

“When you eliminate the expenses of the teams, then everybody gets a share of the gross rather than the net,” Adams said.

There is also a significant monetary payback that filters through the communities which host the playoffs.

“Economic impact studies show the amount of money invested and the number of teams justifies the expense many times over,” Adams said. “The benefit to motels, restaurants, shopping centers and service stations is significant. That’s money that comes to Greenville and turns over many times. The figure could be less than $5,000 per team but that’s ball park.”

Adams said the concept was run up the flagpole at NCHSAA regional meetings without negative response. Williamston football coach Harold Robinson has been a proponent of regional title games at ECU.

“This is another step to upgrade opportunities for our high school athletes,” Adams said.

ECU would get to showcase its campus and athletics facilities plus there would be economic benefits to the community.

“It’s a win-win situation,” Adams said.

The plan is a significant step in improved relations between ECU and the NCHSAA, which were strained last year when the Pirates played Cincinnati under pressure from television interests on a Friday night during the 2002 high school playoffs.

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02/23/2007 12:41:22 AM
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