College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
March 4, 2005
By Al Myatt
Grand new facility beats the
It's significant that Clark-LeClair Stadium
will open on time today when East Carolina hosts Michigan at 11 a.m. in the
first game of the 2005 Keith LeClair Classic.
Delays in athletics facility construction are
often the rule rather than the exception.
Punctuality was not part of the equation with
ECU's upper deck at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The addition was originally
scheduled to be completed for the start of the 1997 football season but
wasn't actually in use until the first home game of 1998.
ECU's plush Murphy Center also was a bit tardy
opening its doors in terms of initial projections.
Such waits are certainly not limited to ECU.
N.C. State began a major renovation of Doak Field, its baseball facility, in
2003. The Wolfpack then played in a partially completed stadium for portions
of two seasons.
The Pirates played their
last game at old Harrington Field on
May 4, 2004 and then used Grainger Stadium in Kinston for their home field
the remainder of last season while work began on the new stadium.
The weather has been far from ideal at times
and yet the construction has been completed on time. That's a remarkable
effort involving a lot of people.
The stadium actually got ahead of its
construction schedule, which is pretty remarkable in itself.
"T.A. Loving Construction has done an
outstanding job as lead contractor on the project," said senior associate
athletic director Nick Floyd.
Floyd played significant role
Floyd has supervised much of the way on the
baseball stadium construction. He was interim athletic director when
"Even before I officially started at East
Carolina I knew the first major project I would be involved in would be the
baseball stadium," Floyd said. "Over the last 3 1/2 years, it has truly been
a team effort to make that dream a reality.
"The stadium is not just the result of a few
individuals but of many, many Pirates stepping forward both inside and
outside of the university to make it happen. Dennis Young and the Pirate
Club staff have done an outstanding job of raising funds."
The contract amount for the 3,000-seat stadium
with T.A. Loving Construction of Goldsboro was $8,362,284.
"The athletic staff, led by J.J. McLamb, has
worked day in and day out from the planning stage to construction to bring
the stadium in on time for the tournament's first game" Floyd said. "Also,
the ECU facility services division led by project manager Todd Marshall,
with great support from George Harrell and Bill Bagnell among many others,
have been absolutely great to work with. Without their support, the project
would not have been possible."
The Pirates will play Arizona State at 5 p.m.
on Saturday and Georgia at 4 p.m. on Sunday as part of this weekend's Keith
LeClair Classic. Ohio State and North Carolina will also be playing in the
KLC, although they don't match up with ECU.
"We're looking forward to a great opening
day," Floyd said. Coach (Randy) Mazey has done an outstanding job of putting
together the premier baseball event in the country this weekend. No doubt
all eyes in the college baseball world will be on Greenville, North
Carolina, on Friday, March 4th."
Former coach Keith LeClair brought the Pirate
program back to prominence. The fan support that resulted outsized the old
"Keith LeClair initially had the dream for a
stadium and believed that the facility would take the dream one step further
and that's to Omaha, Nebraska (site of the College World Series)."
Holtz prepping for spring drills
With 2004 starter James Pinkney currently
ineligible, the hot topic as new football coach Skip Holtz prepares to open
spring practice on Monday is how the quarterback situation will be handled.
The plan is to devote the first six days to
teaching new offensive and defensive systems but making a determination on a
quarterback will obviously impact the offensive approach.
"What our quarterbacks can do is going to
critical in to how much we can install this spring," Holtz said. "That's the
double-edged sword we have right now since we don't know who the quarterback
is going to be. You have to take that position and build your offense around
it. You can't take Tony Rice and decide you going to throw the ball 40 times
a game in the pocket. That's not what he does. You can't take Rick Mirer and
decide to run the option up and down the field either."
Last call in New Orleans
The season will be ending for the loser of the
East Carolina-Tulane basketball game on Saturday. The winner squeezes into
the Conference USA Tournament next week in Memphis.
Houston spoiled Senior Night for Pirates
center Moussa Badiane last week and the Green Wave has a similar occasion as
ECU comes to the Big Easy.
Pirates coach Bill Herrion feels Badiane can
play pro ball in Europe, possibly even in the NBA. Badiane has been an
exemplary player for the Pirates.
"He's a great kid who has never taken a day
off in practice," Herrion said.
Big bucks lure Merritt
East Carolina freshman track star LaShawn
Merritt plans to
take the money and run. Nike will
sign the Pirate speedster to a pro contract, ending his college career.
The announcement comes a week before the NCAA
indoor track championships where Merritt would have been favored for
national titles in the 200- and 400-meter dashes.
According to an ECU release, Merritt signed a
four-year contract, which included a signing bonus, with Nike to begin his
professional track career after competing in just five collegiate indoor
"The offer was something LaShawn couldn't turn
down," said ECU men's track coach Bill Carson. "I tried to advise him to
wait until after the season to perhaps enhance his leverage or standing but
Nike's package was simply too lucrative at this time. They felt a sense of
urgency to market him for competition in June and, when you consider the
addition of appearance fees, it became impossible for LaShawn not to sign."
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