The resignation of East Carolina chancellor William V. Muse was an
unexpected development, leaving questions about what happens to various
causes he was pushing for in regard to Pirates athletics. There are several
pots on the stove and one wonders who will be there to stir them.
Muse had taken an active role on the athletics front in his two years as
ECU chancellor. He signed off on the firing of Steve Logan after 11 seasons
as football coach and ultimately took responsibility for the hiring of John
Thompson. That is one of the few dynamics involving Muse's athletics
influence that will not be left swinging in the breeze by his move to other
responsibilities at ECU.
Muse sought for ECU to have competitive access to the highest level of
Division I-A football and had championed ECU's cause for inclusion in a
conference with a direct tie to the bowl championship series. He hired
influential former Southeastern Conference commissioner Roy Kramer to serve
as a consultant in the process of landing ECU in a more advantaged
conference alignment. Muse visited with ACC commissioner Johnny Swofford
just last month to formally make him aware that ECU would welcome
consideration as that league's 12th member.
Muse gave his permission for former ECU athletics director Mike Hamrick
to pursue the AD job at Nevada-Las Vegas. After Hamrick was hired at UNLV
last month, Muse appointed ECU senior associate AD Nick Floyd to handle
Hamrick's old job on an interim basis. Muse planned to wait until after
football season to launch a search for Hamrick's fulltime replacement.
Muse had joined a committee headed by Tulane president Scott Cowen that
is seeking to reform college football's postseason structure.
University of North Carolina system president Molly Broad will appoint an
interim chancellor at ECU while an ECU committee searches for candidates to
fill the job on a permanent basis. The timing is such that the interim
appointee's skills and athletics savvy could be crucial in ECU's bid for a
slot in a BCS league.
If Broad's priority is to get someone in place whose abilities and
priorities lie in areas other than athletics in the aftermath of the
non-athletic improprieties that contributed to Muse leaving, then ECU's
upward mobility in terms of league affiliation could be adversely affected.
Where will Kramer land with Muse out of the picture? Will the appointee
give him the go-ahead to keep working on ECU's behalf? Would Kramer agree
under those circumstances? Kramer's friendship with Muse goes back to when
Muse was at Auburn and it's unclear whether Kramer will continue his
lobbying efforts for the Pirates with Muse moving out of the picture.
Sources indicate that the timetable on the AD search may be moved up.
What will be the criteria in that search and who will direct it? The
timetable may be such that the AD will be hired before the university's next
chancellor is in place. That may be getting the cart before the horse.
ECU is at a crossroads in terms of its athletics future and those
responsible for directing traffic have left the scene.
The people who do the searches for the two key hires need to have a
vision for how they want ECU's future to be directed. They need to monitor
the progress of how that vision is realized. Obviously, the new chancellor
needs to have some juggling skills. Muse apparently had so much on his plate
that he was undermined by some incapable subordinates for whose actions he
Muse's history of heart problems possibly makes his departure from the
elegant chancellor's residence on Fifth Street a healthy move in terms of
his own best interests. It will be a long shot if his successor has the same
degree of awareness of college athletics and similar ambitions for advancing
ECU's position in football.
At a time when the Pirate ship needs a capable captain at the helm to
steer ECU's direction in athletics, there appears to be a man overboard.
Actually, men overboard considering the lack of a fulltime AD.
The ECU board of trustees best man the lifeboats, set their course and
row hard. ECU supporters should hope that Broad doesn't torpedo the whole
process with the selection of an interim chancellor lacking an appreciation
for an ambitious athletic program. ECU has about as much input on that
choice as the colonists did in determining their governing officials in the
age when real piracy was flourishing.
For now, it looks like it's each man for himself with a storm