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View from the East
Monday, February 16, 2004

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Committee regroups on AD search

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It appears that East Carolina’s new chancellor will be involved in the selection process for ECU’s new athletics director. Board of trustees member Stephen D. Showfety of Greensboro is chairman of the search committee and Showfety appears intent on having the process at a point where the new chancellor can readily come in and take part in the final stages of making the AD hire.

Sources indicate that the initial set of 35 to 40 applicants were not overwhelming. One drawback is that potential candidates were reluctant to pursue the position without knowledge of who the next chancellor — and their immediate boss — would be. After a review of the candidates who had submitted their resumes at the last meeting of the search committee, Showfety asked the committee members if they knew of other candidates who would be suited for the position.

Showfety apparently felt there might be a need for a proactive search that would contact strong candidates rather than waiting for them to indicate their interest to the committee. Showfety seems to think that an associate or assistant AD in the Big East or ACC might be well suited to take the reins at ECU and has been reviewing potential candidates from those leagues.

Interim athletics director Nick Floyd has demonstrated low profile but effective leadership since stepping in on a temporary basis in mid-August when Mike Hamrick departed the AD office to assume that position at Nevada-Las Vegas.

Among the vital decisions which will confront the new AD early in his administration will be a contract extension for men’s basketball coach Bill Herrion. The new AD hire would be wise to look beyond the Conference USA record of the Pirates coach. Herrion's current squad is 1-10 in league games but seven of those losses have been by six points or less.

Herrion has been working to upgrade a program that was an also-ran in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Pirates have been able to compete with most C-USA teams this season, even in losing 11 of their last 12. A 7 p.m. game on Wednesday with Tulane will be important in determining who qualifies for the bottom slot in the Conference USA Tournament, which takes the top 12 of the league’s 14 members.

The Pirates took a narrow loss at UAB, one of the league’s top tier teams, on Saturday night. They have also played competitive games with most of C-USA’s upper division teams.

“Ou margin of error is so small in this league,” said Herrion, who watched as missed opportunities in late game situations cost the team a shot at an upset on Saturday in the Blazers’ gym.

The new AD will need to make a statement on Herrion’s status. Currently the contract of the ECU hoops coach runs through the 2005-06 season, which means Herrion can’t assure high school seniors that he will be at ECU throughout their careers.

Herrion can’t recruit on the same level of some of C-USA’s traditionally-powerful programs but somehow the Pirates have been able to stay in games for most of the 2003-04 season. One wonders if Gabriel Mikulas had not broken his arm how this season might have been different. Herrion has kept his players battling and has two promising frontcourt recruits arriving next season. He deserves an extension.

One never knows how a new chancellor might handle the athletic department but that should be of significance to the search committee for that job. Dr. William Shelton has apparently filled in nicely on an interim basis and should get consideration. Ditto for Floyd.

TCU departure puzzling

The departure of Texas Christian to the Mountain West Conference was puzzling to a degree. In many ways the Mountain West resembles the Western Athletic Conference, from which TCU broke ranks to align with Conference USA. With Southern Methodist, Houston, Rice, Tulane and Tulsa in its division, the Horned Frogs looked to have a geographically-compact grouping that would reduce travel expenses and promote rivalries.

Eric Hyman, TCU’s AD, said that the Mountain West offered greater potential in terms of the Bowl Championship Series. The Frogs had the potential to upset the BCS applecart themselves by avoiding an upset at Southern Miss last season.

The unstated reason for TCU’s departure is that the Fort Worth institution tends to look down on SMU, its neighbor in Dallas. Although TCU and SMU play a rivalry game in football, there are apparently some influential people in the TCU community who thought being in the same league as the Mustangs was beneath the Frogs.

The list of potential replacements for TCU includes Texas-El Paso, Toledo, Miami of Ohio, Louisiana Tech, North Texas and Temple. The CEOs of current and future C-USA members were scheduled to meet in Dallas this weekend.

Central Florida, Marshall, Rice, SMU and Tulsa are lined up to join C-USA in 2005-06. A recent News Nugget noted a report by the Memphis Commercial Appeal that teams departing C-USA for the Big East — Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette and South Florida — will not necessarily be required to pay exit fees to C-USA.

Instead of exit fees, all but one of the programs joining the Big East have agreed to continue scheduling games in football and basketball with teams that will remain in C-USA. Such a move will enhance C-USA’s value in television negotiations. According to the report, Marquette has signaled that it would prefer to pay the exit charge.

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02/23/2007 12:45:04 AM

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