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View from the East
Monday, September 15, 2003

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

ECU in tenuous straits pending Broad's next move

©2003 Bonesville.net

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 was accountable.

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 approaching.

STATE LINE POWER RANKINGS©

There was quite a bit to evaluate in terms of ranking the teams in the Carolinas this week. N.C. State did a great job in rallying to take defending national champion Ohio State to the limit but the 1-2 Wolfpack doesn't yet have a win over a Division I-A opponent. South Carolina, ranked No. 1 in the poll last week, mauled Virginia and then became the maulee on Saturday at Georgia. Wake Forest cracked the Associated Press Top 25 and immediately swooned from such unaccustomed heights against Purdue. Clemson and Duke have been beating up on little kids and taking their lunch money. North Carolina just kicked back and took the weekend off. ECU lost 38-3 at Miami but showed improvement. The Pirates trailed 17-3 in the third quarter and were driving in the Orange Bowl against the No. 2 Hurricanes before the turnover bug gave them some nasty bites.

Without a clear-cut No. 1, there was just one thing to do. The Carolina Panthers have been invited for a guest appearance in the top spot after edging defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay on Sunday.

STATELINE POWER RANKINGS©

How the teams in the Carolinas stack up through games of Sunday, Sept. 14:

1. Carolina (2-0, NFL) ... The Panthers prowled and Jon Gruden scowled.
• 2. Three-way tie: N.C. State (1-2) ... Prototypical moral victory little consolation for the Wolfpack; South Carolina (2-1) ... The Gamecocks were the featured entree between the hedges; Wake Forest (2-1) ... Highly-motivated Purdue lowered the boom on the Demon Deacons.
• 5. Clemson (2-1) ... Tigers 37, Middle Tennessee 14, respect gained 0.
• 6. Duke (2-1) ... The Devils actually have a winning streak, even if it's against Western Carolina and Rice.
• 7. North Carolina (0-2) ... UNC's trip to Wisconsin didn't get any easier with the Badgers losing to UNLV.
• 8. East Carolina (0-3) ... John Thompson wanted to show improvement at Miami. Mission accomplished.

Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.

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02/23/2007 12:41:40 AM
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