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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Friday, November 1, 2002
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

ECU athletic department finds itself under microscope



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Issues inside the East Carolina department of athletics have raised some important eyebrows.

University officials are apparently conducting a thorough and ongoing examination of the department — a process which formally began with an internal audit and which appears poised to continue with the hiring of a high-profile outside expert.

The much anticipated written summary of the recent audit provides an interesting read.

There are parts of the report that are hard to interpret on first glance, but there are other sections that are fairly straightforward. One conclusion that is hard to avoid is that there are questions still begging for answers.

The repercussions of some of the issues cited in the report are beginning to be felt in painful ways. Very recently, the athletic department shelled out a couple of big lump sum payments to employees to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The positions in question were those of an ECU equipment manager and his assistant. In layman’s terms, both positions are considered non-exempt positions as far as overtime pay is concerned.

However, that wasn’t the practice before the audit. To correct things, the university had to pay the equipment manager approximately 30 thousand dollars and his assistant about 18 thousand dollars.

It's probably not a stretch to assume that these payments couldn’t have come at a worse time for the athletic department.

The audit report opens with a letter to Chancellor William Muse, indicating that the primary purpose of the audit was to review allegations made against the Director of Athletics for improper management practices.

A finding in the audit that particularly stood out was that athletic department employees stated that morale was at an all-time low.

Apparently, the ECU administration has determined it needs some professional advice on matters concerning the athletic department. University officials confirmed this week that former NCAA president and ACC Commissioner Gene Corrigan has been hired as a consultant.

It’s still unclear as to what Mr. Corrigan's exact function will be, but there are several theories on the table.

Believe it or not, Pirates still in conference race

With Texas Christian's 37-7 win over Southern Miss on Wednesday, every team in Conference USA has at least one loss as we brace for November. So, despite a 2-5 overall record, East Carolina is still very much in the race for the league championship.

The Pirates have very winnable games coming up, at Houston and at UAB. These certainly aren’t “gimmees”, especially this season, but they are games that the Pirates could win.

TCU looked really strong in hanging such a drubbing on the Golden Eagles, which reinforces the notion that ECU's stretch run will present major obstacles. After the road swing to Houston and UAB, the Pirates have the Horned Frogs at home and then travel to Southern Miss before closing out the season at home against Cincinnati on that “infamous” Friday night.

The Horned Frogs are by far the best remaining team on the schedule. Cincinnati handed TCU its only loss in the first week of the season. Hattiesburg in late November can’t be any fun, either.

The point here is that there is still plenty to play for. That’s what a conference does for a football team. Although the odds are certainly against it, the Pirates could play themselves into a bowl.

Obviously, this team has yet to play its best football. That effort may still be a year away.

Still, the Pirates have five games to go and a lot can happen.

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02/23/2007 01:22:51 AM

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