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Bonesville Magazine, Vol. V, Teaser No. 3
Wednesday, August 17, 2006
By Ron Cherubini
Staff Feature Writer


Pirate Club's new boss brings strong track record

ECU alum, former Pirate Club staffer Mark Wharton returns to take charge


Holtz recruiting strategy nets class of distinction
Passionate Pirate gives his all to pursue a vision
Pirate Club's new boss brings strong track record

'The Year of the Pirate'

If you're not a Pirate Club member, you may get your copy of Bonesville Magazine by placing your secure order online now, or you can pick up the 112-page volume starting next week at select locations. (*Note: Pirate Club members who had renewed as of July will receive Bonesville Magazine, Volume V, as well as upcoming 2006-07 issues of The Pirates' Chest by mail as a membership benefit. The Pirates' Chest, an exclusive perk for Pirate Club members, will not be available for online ordering or at retail locations.)

Bonesville Magazine

112 pages of features, pictures and information...
  • Letter from Pirate Club Executive Director Mark Wharton
  • Happy Anniversary to Us! A Look at Our Past, Present & Future
  • Hall of Fame Moment Bigger than Sports
  • No Time Like the Present: Pirate Coaches Lining Up Talent Against Needs for 2007
  • James Pinkney: Poised to Take his Place Among the Elite Pirate Quarterbacks
  • ECU PREVIEW: Compared to 2005's Climb, the Pirates Face a Mountainous Challenge in '06
  • Q & A with Coach Skip Holtz: Pirates Coach Cautiously Optimistic
  • C-USA PREVIEW: Newcomers Breed Parity In the Now Truly Wide-Open Conference USA
  • Pirate Recruiting: Holtz & Crew Working Wizardry Inside and Out
  • Visit with the Voice, Jeff Charles
  • The New Pirates 2006
  • The Rookie Books
  • Tracking the Classes: Recruits of 2002-2005
  • Holtz Embedding Himself into the Community: Coach's Passions Run Deep Off the Turf of Dowdy-Ficklen
  • Wharton Brings Business-like Approach to Pirate Club
  • Pirate Time Machine: Walter Williams: A Witness to It All
  • LeClair Leaves Sweeping Legacy
  • The 1966 Team: Champions Ushered in a New Football Era
  • Pirate Club Events and Information

By Ron Cherubini
Editor, Bonesville Magazine
All rights reserved.

When Mark Wharton was last at East Carolina, there were dark clouds on the horizon with trouble brewing all around the athletics department.

With an athletic director looking to get out of town, a Chancellor escorted out of town, and a football program in a downward spiral, Wharton found himself looking for any avenue to continue his career. That path would take him out to the University of Nevada–Las Vegas along with boss Mike Hamrick.

There, as an Associate Director of Athletics for Development, Wharton did what he has done at every stop along his career path — he helped UNLV get substantially better, quickly.

If you were to follow Wharton’s stops — the Kinston Indians, University of Tennessee, UNC-Asheville, James Madison, East Carolina and UNLV — you would see a track record that is consistent, professional and passionate.

Wharton began his professional career while a student at ECU, earning an appointment as the Kinston Indians' Director of Regional Marketing in January of 1991. He marketed the Cleveland Indians' Class A organization to four different regions with an emphasis on advertising and group sales while supervising the club's concessions, merchandising, game-day promotions and ticketing operations.

During his last season with the Indians in 1993, Wharton was directly responsible for an increase in group sales by over $50,000.

After graduating from East Carolina in 1993, Wharton headed to Knoxville to pursue a graduate degree. While there, he served as a development and marketing intern for the UT women's athletics department, where he designed all print advertisements and coordinated game-day activities for the Lady Vols' nationally-prominent basketball program while also assisting the department in major fund-raising projects.

Wharton would return to Greenville in 1996 and embark on a four-year stint within the athletics department as a Pirate Club’s Assistant Director.

During Wharton's first tenure at East Carolina, he was responsible for the development of 17 Pirate Club chapters in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. In addition to identifying and cultivating members for annual campaigns, he qualified individuals and businesses for ECU's "Kickoff To Victory" campaign to raise $10.5 million for the construction of the strength and conditioning building that was  later named the Murphy Center.

Wharton also played an active role directing other activities such as the Young Graduate Campaign and Student Pirate Club while coordinating parking and seating assignments for football and basketball games.

In 2000, Wharton began his push toward his new position by leaving the comfort of his ECU home and heading out to make a name for himself separate from his alma mater. That foray took him to Harrisonburg, VA, and James Madison University.

At JMU, Wharton took on the post of Director of Athletics Development (the Duke Club). There, he developed the department's athletic fund-raising arm from the ground up, hiring, educating and directing a staff of nine employees.

He also implemented the representative system in 13 communities in four states, building a bigger base for annual giving to JMU athletics and, in turn, a larger prospect base for future capital campaigns. In all, Wharton increased the donor base by more than 30 percent and increased overall giving to the Duke Club by 108 percent during his three years while also developing and implementing JMU's first capital campaign to raise $10 million for an athletics performance building.

Keeping on track, Wharton left JMU in 2003 for UNC-Asheville to take the post of Associate Athletics Director of External Affairs, where he constructed an annual campaign and developed an organized marketing plan to target businesses in western North Carolina. In just one year with the Bulldog athletics department, he was responsible for a 30 percent increase in ticket revenue and a 22 percent hike in donations over the previous year.

Wharton also handled the initiation, development and implementation of UNC-A's new branding, which resulted in a 120 percent increase in licensing revenue.

Then, in 2004, Wharton made what he is hoping was his penultimate stop at UNL-V, where he joined former East Carolina AD Mike Hamrick to assume the role of Associate Athletics Director for Development. In that capacity, Wharton was responsible for heading all development and fundraising activities for the Rebels' intercollegiate athletics program.

In addition to directing all annual giving, major gift and capital campaigns for the Rebel Athletic Fund, Wharton also provided oversight to UNLV's donor seat program for football and basketball campaigns while working as the liaison with ESPN Regional Marketing Group on all ticketing and fulfillment for the athletics department.

Chief among his accomplishments, Wharton implemented a new annual giving campaign at UNLV in 2004, titled the "The Representative Program," which increased annual giving nearly 22 percent and drove a 15 percent climb in RAF donors compared to levels prior to his arrival.

Wharton was also responsible for the development of a strategic plan to build a 30,000-square foot, $16 million athletic academic building at UNLV with private funds — a campaign which is expected to be completed this fall.

While pushing ahead on the other projects, Wharton also spearheaded the restructuring of UNLV's priority point system, ticket, trade and CARS programs.

Wharton makes no bones about his excitement to be back at East Carolina, calling it his “dream job.”

So, what will Wharton do in his first year at ECU? What is his vision for the Pirate Club? What growth in PC numbers should we expect? What capital projects will be under taken?

Find out the answers to these questions and many others in the 2006 Bonesville Magazine. Hear what the new Executive Director of the Pirate Club had to say in an exclusive interview cited in an in-depth feature story in the 112-page publication.

Send an e-mail message to Ron Cherubini.

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02/23/2007 02:07:05 PM

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