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Read Henry Hinton's feature story on veteran Hollywood actress and ECU alum Beth Grant in Bonesville Magazine.

Henry's Highlights
Thursday, October 14, 2004

By Henry Hinton

Holland's strategic vision not a timid one

©2004 Bonesville.net

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• STEVE BALLARD: New Leader Takes Charge

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• KEITH LECLAIR on ECU's Field of Dreams

• BETH GRANT: Actress Still a Pirate
 

The new administration at East Carolina has a certain openness when discussing issues relating to where the university is today and where it is going.

One of the most engaging qualities of new chancellor Steve Ballard is his willingness to discuss any issue and offer a seemingly unqualified response that smacks of the kind of candor not seen for a while in Greenville.

Now, new Athletics Director Terry Holland seems to be following suit.

In a pre-game interview on Saturday with the WNCT-AM Talk 1070 gang gathered on Fort Game Day in the Pirate Club parking lot, Holland wasted no time in discussing some issues in a frank manner that gives us a peek at what his agenda might be in the near future.

True, it was Holland’s first week on the job, but he seemed more than willing to discuss with tailgate show personalities Patrick Johnson and Denny O’Brien the future of ECU as it pertains to conference affiliation and scheduling in-state schools, among other interesting topics.

After paying the appropriate amount of respect to Conference USA, Holland went on to indicate that assessing the conference situation was at the top of his list. Concerns about staying in the league include travel time, expenses, loss of class time and lack of geographical identity.

Take the upcoming basketball schedule for example. Three separate times during the conference season in January and February, Bill Herrion’s team is scheduled to be on the road to play league games on Wednesday and Saturday in the same week.

The team would typically travel on Tuesday for the Wednesday game. Ordinarily they would then return to Greenville as early as possible on Thursday. However, with a Saturday game they would normally leave on Friday. That means the players would only be in class on Mondays of those three weeks.

The result will be 12 missed days of class for the ECU players for those just six games. Keep in mind that these players usually are not at the top of their class. Making passing grades and keeping them eligible becomes a real chore for the coaches and academic counselors. This kind of travel schedule compounds the problems.

Herrion has a sympathetic ear from his new AD when it comes to this issue. Holland believes that is too much class to miss.

This example just deals with basketball. What about the women’s volleyball team that must travel to Texas-El Paso for a contest that will last 45 minutes? No question that Conference USA will continue to become a travel and financial challenge as time goes on.

Holland also mentioned in the Saturday interview that he feels the Big East will eventually have to expand beyond eight football members. He stopped short of saying he was going to work on becoming number nine, but listening to him speak one could get that feeling.

Perhaps the most bold comments from Holland in the interview on Saturday dealt with how he intends to deal with scheduling, particularly when it comes to in-state opponents. The new Pirate AD sounded like former chancellor Leo Jenkins when he spoke about his feelings about playing N.C. State and North Carolina.

Holland said that he intends to make playing in-state schools a priority. He said it will be hard to convince other brand name schools to play ECU unless we can get the Wolfpack and Tar Heels to agree to play us home and home on a yearly basis.

Further, Holland said he might have to take that issue to a level above the coaches and athletics directors at those schools. Stating that decisions are made at that level with specific agendas in mind, Holland said it might be an issue that will have to be taken to the taxpayers.

No doubt, Holland is aware of the history of the current games with those two schools. He certainly knows the only way the recent games in Greenville were scheduled came from pressure from within the legislature.

He cited the way the state of Virginia pulled together to apply the necessary pressure on the ACC to invite Virginia Tech into their league.

When Denny O’Brien pushed Holland on the scheduling issue and asked if he was speaking of home and home arrangements just for football, the new AD quickly responded that he felt basketball games should also be scheduled in Minges Coliseum with both both the Wolfpack and the Tar Heels.

The interview with Holland was certainly a look at his intentions for the near future while evoking the spirit of the past.

If I had not known it was Holland being interviewed, I might have been convinced that Leo himself had come back for a Homecoming day chat.

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02/23/2007 10:14:02 AM

 

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