Insights and Observations
Monday, October 24, 2005
By Henry Hinton
Chancellor on mission to
leverage the "spirit"
to the archive of Friday's Talk of the Town,
featuring Henry Hinton's interview of
ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard:
in on the radio or catch the live audio feed of
today's Talk of the Town with
Dr. Steve Ballard has
been the at the helm of the East Carolina University Pirate ship for just
over a year, but with all the changes that have ensued it feels like a much
longer period of time.
His theory that athletics
is the “front porch” of the university lends considerable weight to the
notion that upgrading in all sports is an important objective.
The truth is that Ballard
is still in somewhat of a honeymoon period. However, one very large decision
made by the chancellor has seemed to endear him to the Pirate faithful.
After nearly pulling the trigger too quickly on hiring a director of
athletics, Ballard waited, got a little lucky, and then landed a huge hire
in legendary basketball coach and nationally-respected athletics
administrator Terry Holland.
“I feel very good about
hiring Terry Holland” said Ballard on Friday morning. “After that things got
a lot easier because Terry has been making these decisions. And I think
everyone in Pirateland knows that Skip Holtz has been a great addition to
our program, as Ricky Stokes is, and other people that we’re bringing in.”
The chancellor stopped by
a live Talk of the Town broadcast Friday morning at Greenville’s new Port
City Java. [Replay
the show's audio archive.]
“The best thing is that
the Pirate spirit is back,” said Ballard. “You can feel that on campus. You
can feel it at football games.”
Shortly after the
broadcast, Ballard joined Holland, Holtz and the football team for a charter
flight to Memphis where he watched
a late comeback by the Pirates fall three
points short 27-24. It was the chancellor’s first airplane trip with the
team this season.
No doubt that has not
dampened the new chancellor’s spirits or his belief that ECU can continue to
build on what Holland and Holtz have started this season, particularly as
Homecoming weekend approaches. Ballard says it has been evident everywhere
the Pirate fan base has traveled.
“As I’ve said before, at
Wake Forest we had about one-third of the fans and twice the noise, all on
the Pirates side,” said Ballard. “There’s just nothing better than feeling
the spirit. Not just in athletics, but the spirit of growth, accomplishment
and impact is all over the university. It’s certainly true with the football
It is a phenomenon many
athletic administrators seem nearly apologetic for. Dealing with
constituencies that include faculty, students and alumni, it sometimes seems
hard to explain that sports could be so important.
Recently Ballard and
Holland have had to answer a lot of questions. Like, why are we paying so
many coaches not to work?
“I like tell all parts of
our university that athletics is our front porch and we need to be very
serious about having a great looking entrée point into the university,”
“That’s what athletics
do. You can never make it the whole house. We have to make sure that we stay
focused on the fact that we’re there to train undergraduate students and to
do other things, especially in research and public service, that we do very
well. But athletics is a positive benefit to all that.”
During his appearance on
Friday, Dr. Ballard spoke of other exciting happenings around the campus,
including the decision by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center to locate
a key center at ECU.
The new center will make
East Carolina a major player in the national biotech revolution by studying
biology and its application through medicine.
Ballard is also excited
about an upcoming visit to ECU by new
UNC System president-elect Erskine Bowles,
who will spend a day in Greenville on November 8.
The chancellor is anxious
to show Bowles the importance of what is happening on the third largest
campus in the system.
“I think the new
president really understand eastern North Carolina and understands the
difference ECU is making for this state,” Ballard said.
campus-related milestones and additions include the groundbreaking for the
much talked about Eastern Carolina Cardiovascular Center and the new Family
Ballard is now well into
his second year on the job and there is no doubt the changes in the
athletics department have been the headline grabbers. But there is much more
happening at ECU.
The new chancellor puts
it like this. "It’s not one thing or the other. It’s building an entire
university that we can be proud of."
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04/21/2008 07:03:41 PM