College Sports in the Carolinas
Don't miss Al Myatt's
profile of new ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in the 2004
from the East
Monday, October 11, 2004
By Al Myatt
Pirate Club tackling tough
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PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact
INSIDE PIRATE FOOTBALL
Tracking the Classes
NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again
HIGH HOPES FOR HOOPS
New Leader Takes Charge
SCOTT COWEN: Busting Down the Door
KEITH LECLAIR on ECU's Field of Dreams
BETH GRANT: Actress Still a Pirate
In a letter sent out last month by Billy Mills, executive president of the
Pirate Club, he noted that the club had 2,774 members who had not renewed
for 2004. Mills also stated that the club was almost $400,000 short of its
goal of $3.7 million in unrestricted scholarship support.
Dennis Young, executive director of the Pirate Club, said the number of
non-renewals, excluding the student segment of the club, is really around
1,600. Young said the typical attrition rate is 700 to 900 annually.
"We probably have about 800 more non-renewals this year," Young said.
Several factors are involved, Young said.
"A lot of people, when they become new members of the Pirate Club, don't
realize the benefits of renewing their membership," Young said.
Club rankings for priority seating, for instance, are based on continued
support of the club.
"I talked with Bobby Purcell of the Wolfpack Club at N.C. State and he said
they deal with the same thing," Young said.
Historically, Young noted, support for the Pirate Club has been related to
the performance of the football team. The Pirates are coming off a 1-11
season and are 1-4 in 2004.
"Even though everybody believes (Coach) John Thompson is doing a great job
and has the program moving in the right direction, some people on the fence
have opted not to join this year," Young said.
Increasing tuition costs and the additional expense of more out-of-state
recruiting adds to the cost of athletic scholarships, which the Pirate Club
is committed to supporting. One partial solution allows the club to tap into
five percent of the athletic endowment fund, which is currently $6 million.
That will free up about $300,000 to bridge the gap.
The Pirate Club has been running full speed over the last decade to keep up
with the rising costs of college athletics. Its scholarship commitment was
in the $1 million range annually in the mid-1990s but has increased to over
$3 million today.
"The landscape has changed; there are more expenses for a variety of
reasons," Young said. "The majority of our members have been very faithful."
Since May, the club has raised an additional $1 million for increased costs
of building the new baseball stadium. About $8 million has been raised for
the new stadium, which is on course for completion for the 2005 season.
"I don't know anyone nationally who has raised that amount privately for a
baseball stadium," Young said, "and that shows how supportive our people
The Pirate Club is hopeful that the addition of Terry Holland to the ECU
staff as athletic director will translate into a much-needed surge in
"Everybody is thrilled and excited that Terry is here," Young said. "We plan
to use that excitement to get people to step up and close that gap and help
us move forward. We want to seize the opportunity."
A taped phone message from Holland will go out to Pirate Club members and
those who haven't renewed in the coming weeks.
"We're in a full court press," Young said.
The address for the Pirate Club is: Ward Sports Medicine Building, Suite
304, Greenville, NC 27858-4353. The club's phone number is (252) 328-4540.
Its website is:
What was Scelfo thinking?
Tulane scored four touchdowns in a 27-25 loss at East Carolina on Saturday
compared to three touchdowns and two field goals for ECU. A big factor in
the Pirates' narrow victory was the Green Wave's failures on conversions.
Four TDs and four one-point conversions would have put Tulane at 28 points.
That would have meant ECU would have had to have gotten into the endzone on
its final possession rather than position for a winning field goal by Cam
Broadwell which the Pirates likely could have done.
But only once, after a first quarter score on a blocked punt, did Tulane
coach Chris Scelfo elect to kick for one point. The Wave botched a 2-point
attempt after returning a fumble on the second half kickoff.
ECU also stopped 2-point tries after a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns by
"I felt like we needed every point from every opportunity," Scelfo told The
New Orleans Times-Picayune. "We had to have two scores to win it (down 21-7
at the half), and we hadn't been as consistent kicking extra points as we'd
After Tulane cut the lead to 21-13 at the outset of the second half, the
Wave lined up in a water bucket formation to the left. Scelfo said his
players read a numbers advantage on ECU but the pitch to linebacker Anthony
Cannon was foiled.
ECU coach John Thompson owned up to a fake punt in the third quarter that
saw a short snap to Kort Shankweiler stopped for a loss of a yard on
fourth-and-one at the Pirate 41.
"We thought it was there," Thompson said. "Thank you defense."
ECU's defensive unit turned in a three and out after the fake punt gamble
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