East Carolina will be moving ahead on
expansion of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium following the 2009 season, according
to Jimmy Bass, senior associate athletic director, who was on hand for
ECU's football media day in Harvey Hall of the Murphy Center on
Work is supposed to begin after the
last home game of the upcoming season, which could be as late as Dec. 5,
the date of the Conference USA championship game.
The project that will add approximately
7,000 seats at the East end of Bagwell Field has been approved by the
university's board of trustees. The new seating will essentially enclose
the structure and raise capacity to roughly 50,000.
An architectural firm is working on
plans for the new addition. Bass said seating assignments for the
stadium, which opened with a capacity of 17,000 in 1963, will be redone
for 2010 — a potential source of revenue for the pending project.
Bass said that 21,207 season tickets
had been sold for the 2009 home games as of 5 p.m. on Friday and he was
confident that ECU's entire 22,000 allotment would be purchased before
the Pirates open in Greenville against football championship division
power Appalachian State on Sept. 5.
Athletic director Terry Holland had
indicated earlier that the level of ongoing support of Pirate football
would be a factor that would be considered in making a decision on
Bass said the football stadium
expansion would be privately funded. Cost projections should be
completed in October.
A lead gift of $750,000 has been made
by Tap Johnson, III, of Burlington, toward the development of an Olympic
sports park, which also will utilize funding from student fees.
Consideration for "Rock"
ECU football coach Skip Holtz addressed
the wishes of assistant Thomas "Rock" Roggeman concerning the treatment
the defensive tackles coach is receiving for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma,
which was diagnosed in June. Holtz said Roggeman did not want his
medical situation to become a distraction for the team as it prepares
for the 2009 season.
Roggeman will continue his staff
duties, according to Holtz.
"Coach Roggeman is going through some
difficult times," Holtz said. "Rock was diagnosed with a form of cancer
in June and began his treatments in July to go through this battle and
fight that he has taken on. Rock has asked that we keep this as a family
situation. He doesn't want to detract from what this season is all
about, these seniors and the players.
"He does not want to be the main story
in this entire thing, which tells you a little about his unselfish
nature. Everybody knows about his great excitement, enthusiasm and
passion. We have a great respect for him and this battle he is going
through at this time.
"Having people on our staff like Coach
(Todd) Fitch (offensive coordinator), who has gone through a similar
situation and been through a year where he had to battle the cancer and
the treatments, has been very helpful to Rock as well.
"We have a great respect for Rock. At
this point, it is not something that is going to affect his coaching
ability. Right now we're going to play it day by day, and right now Rock
is doing a great job of taking care of his body and doing the things he
had to do in order to be out on the practice field at this time."
Holtz updated the status of a number of
players on Saturday. Running back Jonathan Williams has been reinstated
following his suspension at midseason in 2008 following his arrest on
Running back Norman Whitley is back in
the program after being suspended for unspecified violations of team
standards prior to spring practice. Whitley is not currently a member of
the 105-man roster because he is undergoing rehabilitation for a
Offensive lineman Doug Palmer also has
been reinstated but is in the same situation as Whitley while he rehabs
from shoulder surgery. The rehab list also includes linebacker Matt
Pick, defensive lineman Robert Jones, wide receiver T.J. Terrell,
fullback Ben Herlocker and offensive lineman C.J. Brown.
Defensive back Emanuel Davis has also
been reinstated from a suspension.
Holtz expressed his best wishes to
players including receiver D.J. McFadden, linebacker Lorenzo Osborne,
defensive back Julian Carter and defensive back DeAndre Jones, who have
left the program.
The Pirates coach announced a group
that has received scholarships which includes receiver Reyn Willis,
running back Brandon Jackson, defensive lineman Josh Smith and defensive
back Levin Neal, who transferred from N.C. State.
Defensive lineman Allen Crowder is
currently suspended. Kicker Ben Hartman is being evaluated for a
recurring hip ailment and is not being counted on to be available for
the outset of the upcoming campaign. Transfer Giavanni Ruffin, a running
back, is not taking part in camp at this point. Holtz said he is still
working to have his eligibility approved by the NCAA clearinghouse.
Kass to tight end
Rob Kass, who won the starting
quarterback job prior to the 2007 season, will get a look at tight end
in preseason camp.
"We are moving Rob there full time to
give him a chance to earn a spot on the two-deep depth chart and earn a
role on this football team," Holtz said. "As a senior, he is unselfish
and wants to make this move. He was the one who approached me about it.
He just wants to step on the field and help this senior class and this
program by making a difference in wins and losses on the field."
Kass could still possibly back up
Patrick Pinkney at quarterback, if needed, although redshirt freshman
Josh Jordan and true freshman Rio Johnson will get the first looks
Sophomore Cliff Perryman is moving from
linebacker to defensive end, where projected starters C.J. Wilson and
Scotty Robinson are both seniors.