College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Friday, October 17, 2003
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News &
Dealing with madness —
midnight & otherwise
In one sense the National Association of Basketball
Coaches wants to stop the madness. In another sense, East Carolina is ready
to start it — tonight at midnight.
ECU coach Bill Herrion has been jet-setting this week.
He was in Chicago on Wednesday for a called meeting
of the NABC, which sought to address some of the negative situations that
have been revealed at Baylor, Iowa State, Georgia and St. Bonaventure in
Herrion was at North Ridge Country Club in Raleigh for a
noon meeting on Thursday and appeared at Chico’s in Cary on Thursday
evening. Herrion will be in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum tonight for
“Midnight Madness,” a rouser to create excitement for the upcoming season.
The Pirates tip off the 2003-04 campaign on Nov. 22 at
home against familiar Atlantic Sun Conference foe Campbell, which,
incidentally, helped welcome
new member East Tennessee State into
its league on Thursday.
Admission tonight is free and the doors open at 10:30 p.m.
There also will be free food and drinks for ECU students who have valid
student identification. There will be a variety of contests for the students
as well as performances by the cheerleaders and Solid Gold dancers.
The ECU team will be introduced at midnight with a slam
dunk contest and a brief scrimmage to follow. ECU’s first official practice
will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
Back to the setting in Chicago earlier this week where
coaches had good motivation to attend. If they didn’t, there was the
possibility that they could lose their tickets to the Final Four. Over 300
made it to the Windy City, including Herrion.
“There have obviously been some negative things in our
game the last five or six months,” Herrion said, alluding to the various
national scandals that have made the headlines. “We needed to come together
and kind of address those things. The biggest thing is the ethics and
“People need to understand that the actions of a few have
cast a negative light on the whole college game across the country — because
of a few. I don’t think we have a problem in our game. I don’t think that’s
the case at all.
“What we kind of came out of the meetings with is that we
have to have a better relationship between our coaching fraternity and the
NCAA. There are some rules that need to be changed and some rules that need
to be looked at.”
Many coaches feel that a rule that needs to be addressed
is one that limits scholarships to eight over two years and five for one
year. Herrion said Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun stood up and talked about
his situation with big man Emeka Okafor, who expects to graduate after his
junior season and may then leave for the NBA. Calhoun said NCAA limitations
may place him at less than 13 scholarship players with Okafor departing.
Closer to home, Herrion is expecting forward Jonathan
Moore to transfer rather than play his senior season at ECU, and the Pirates
may be at less than the 13-scholarship player limit as a result.
“That’s really a sticking point with coaches,” Herrion
Whether or not the NCAA decides if Keith Foster can be on
scholarship this year also will impact ECU’s plans. His eligibility coming
out of Winston-Salem Reynolds is still being evaluated by the NCAA.
“All of our coaches are unified around an action plan to
further embrace the ethical and moral standards of our profession.” said
Kelvin Sampson, NABC president and head coach at the University of Oklahoma,
in a release from the NABC. “With this solidarity, we will share the best
practices of all our members and move forward advocating a new season of
change and accountability.”
At the meeting, the head coaches agreed to customize a
code of ethics, for both players and coaches, to fit each specific program.
Herrion is among those who already has what amounts to a
code of ethics in place.
“We talk with our kids about how to conduct themselves all
of the time,” Herrion said. “There are a lot of programs out there trying to
do it the right way. There are some programs out there cheating and cutting
corners, but as far as a code of conduct, that’s something that we have
already been doing. Those are things that are already being addressed in our
The head coaches have agreed to send the code of ethics
they develop back to the association within three weeks of the summit.
Herrion has no problem with that.
“In this day and time, kids need constant reinforcement as
things happen,” said the ECU coach. “As things happen with teams and
individuals, we copy articles and make sure the kids read and are aware
The NABC also has announced plans to launch a five-session
professional development program mandated for all Division I assistant
coaches at this year’s annual Final Four convention in San Antonio. These
professional development workshops will cover recruiting rules, diversity,
coaching character, ethics and morals.
The fifth class will be a panel of athletic directors and
university presidents discussing what they look for when hiring a head
basketball coach. All current Division I head coaches also will reconvene at
this same convention to discuss and take action on additional
recommendations from the NABC. The ethics committee’s plan to review
unacceptable behavior by coaches will also be presented.
Although fewer than 2 percent of the programs represented
at the Chicago meeting have been involved in the serious problems that have
rocked college basketball, the NABC's proactive approach to preventing
further problems appears very healthy.
That’s the unofficial theme the Pirates have adopted this
“It’s our third year in Conference USA and fifth year at
ECU,” Herrion said. “We’ve put the pieces together. We have a good mix this
year of older, veteran guys who have been through a lot of games and it’s
time now to take that next step, so to say.”
ECU was 7-0 and 10-2 last season before finishing 12-15.
“I feel like we’ll take care of November and December,”
Herrion said. “We’ve got to get better when we get into January and February
in the league.”
Herrion is hopeful that C-USA’s move away from division
play will also be a boost. Instead of playing programs such as Louisville,
Marquette and Cincinnati twice, the Pirates will play home and home against
Charlotte, UAB and South Florida.
If Louisville, Cincinnati, DePaul and Marquette bolt for
the Big East as has been widely speculated, what kind of effect will that
have on C-USA in general and ECU in particular?
“It would be a hit,” Herrion said. “You’re talking about
marquee national programs. When we recruit, we sell East Carolina and the
opportunity to play in a great league. We talk about the opportunity to play
against Louisville and Marquette and these people. If they leave, it would
be a hit — losing some quality programs.”
ECU has verbal commitments from Charles Bronson (6-10,
220) of Philadelphia Lutheran and Mike Castro (6-7, 235) of Allegany Junior
College in Cumberland, Maryland.
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