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ECU success linked to dedicated fans

Posted July 14, 2011
Updated July 15, 2011

— A football stadium expansion and a tougher basketball schedule haven’t put the East Carolina University athletics program on the map by themselves. The constant attention to detail and vision amidst the comedy of Athletic Director Terry Holland haven’t done it either.

The success of the Pirates, according to Holland, is a reciprocated byproduct of a dedicated fan base.

“I really give all the credit to everything that has been done here to the Pirate nation first,” Holland said. “Our fan base is what we built this program on, and they have responded to every challenge. The Pirate nation is what makes this place go.”

Of course, the stadium expansions and a winning product on the football field give the fan base and recruits alike a reason to stay loyal. The Pirates have been to five consecutive bowl games and have recently stretched their stadium to seat a few ship’s worth of Pirates.

“Facilities are a long-term issue. They are going to serve generations of coaches and student-athletes and students here at this university,” Holland said. “Facilities to me are always an important expenditure, and really the first thing on your list in being successful in the long term. We had to get the football program back in good shape financially, and of course, we have expanded the stadium to 50,000 seats now, and our Pirates have filled it up.”

Holland has made a handful of coaching changes in his ECU tenure. On the football side, he is on his third head coach since taking over – and that is an indication of success rather than failure. After Skip Holtz produced two Conference USA championships, he accepted a job at South Florida. Ruffin McNeill is now the head man of an ECU team that is one-for-one in bowl appearances under his watch.

“In this economy, we are continuing to sell more season tickets than the year before,” Holland said. “The season ticket base is the one you can bank on at the first of the year. We are in great shape because we have a tremendous fan base. Just an absolutely fantastic bunch of Pirates.”

On the basketball side, Holland has seen four coaches in the last seven years, but they are gaining traction. In 2007 they scheduled their first ever home game against an ACC opponent (Wake Forest). Last year they made their first post-season appearance since the 1992-93 season with a trip to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.

“I don’t think there is any question that our team is on the rise,” Holland said. “The next key is going to be doing what we did in football, and that’s being able to play some games that have regional significance first and national significance after that.”

Holland does see the program growing on the national stage rather quickly, but doesn’t offer any finite timetable.

“In this business, like any business, you want to have a long-range plan that you’re generally sticking to,” Holland said. “Today I don’t think five-year plans are very accurate, but certainly, you need to have at least a three-year plan and have an idea of where you want to be in five years and even 10 years.”

32 Comments

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  • brodyspub Jul 20, 11:13 p.m.

    ECU does very well for a mid major. ACC man Holland has done a good job for them.

    — Posted by GodblesstheUSA

    Are you implying that NC State is a major? Uh... NOT... Majors would be Ohio State, UCLA, USC Trojans, Michigan, LSU, Florida, Nebraska, Notre Dame, among others. NC State would not make the list. UNC may make the list for BBall only. Duke would make the list for BBall only. FL State - football only, Vatec Fball only (maybe not - lacks history depth). If the ACC was being picked apart by the SEC or Big 10, NC State would be left behind.

  • jtmmlee Jul 15, 5:44 p.m.

    ECU does very well for a mid major. ACC man Holland has done a good job for them.

    — Posted by GodblesstheUSA

    May be STATE will do as well with their AD which flunked out of ECU.... :-)

  • ecusteve Jul 15, 4:08 p.m.

    No reason to argue actual facts with that one NCSU fan. I'm sure they're proud that he's posting on their behalf.

  • davenportj Jul 15, 2:38 p.m.

    Funny that this started out as nice side note about ECU's AD the work his has done and the fact that ECU has dedicated fans. Now it is just another bash the Pirates blog. If the playing field was level this would not even matter. So here I blog foolishly thinking that I may change some reader's veiw of what is fact and what they may have heard or really do not know about ECU I mean some of the stuff posted here is so out of date most of you were not born when it started

  • Centurian Jul 15, 1:45 p.m.

    ECU is a great success to the Pirate Nation. That's good, but they're not so well respected by the rest of the state and country. They have to overcome the public perception of being a top notch party school with a lower tier athletic program.

  • GodblesstheUSA Jul 15, 1:25 p.m.

    ECU does very well for a mid major. ACC man Holland has done a good job for them.

  • davenportj Jul 15, 1:20 p.m.

    There are problems preventing ECU from being considered an important college for sports, none of... View More

    — Posted by hi_i_am_wade

    And to think that ECU has been called a PARTY SCHOOL simply because some students in the late '40's early '50's missed curfew coming from a dance yes they used to lock the dorms back then and many folks who came to G-Vegas nite clubs in the '60's and '70's were students from ACC schools looking to have fun Maybe you need a history lesson as to what you wish to talk about

  • hi_i_am_wade Jul 15, 1:02 p.m.

    There are problems preventing ECU from being considered an important college for sports, none of them the AD can do anything about. Walk on the ECU campus and it is not an uncommon sight to see someone wear Duke or UNC or NC State or Wake Forest clothing. What would happen if a student at Duke wore a UNC hat? The results would be different in Durham than in Greenville. North Carolina is still a basketball first state. And that means that the majority of people who were born in the state cheer for one of the 4 state ACC teams. The last time I was there, I bought the annual ACC basketball preview handbook in the ECU student store.

    Think about this: How many kids in this state grow up cheering for ECU instead one of the big 4?

    To add to ECU loyalty problems, most kids go there thinking it is a party college. So most freshmen at ECU are more interested in getting drunk while mom and dad aren't around than learning. ECU is a fine college (in an awful town with the worst drivers in the US) that is marred by the reputation it has. That reputation sticks with ECU, despite what success they can achieve in sports.

  • davenportj Jul 15, 12:03 p.m.

    davenport.... what are YOU talking about? It was the ECU/NC State game in Raleigh when Jimmy V.... View More

    — Posted by mcase

    Sorry the fight was started by a HIGHSCHOOLER FROM CARY not by AN ECU STUDENT and all you can do is throw something that happen 30 years ago Thats a cheapshot if ever. and yes I was there also and the series stopped 'til the '92 Peach Bowl If you wish try reading the book BACKYARD BAWL you could learn something about these great games and not repeat something you'er heard

  • robster Jul 15, 11:30 a.m.

    Why ECU isn't invited to join the ACC still baffles me..drop BC, UMiami, and WF,and add ECU...just my opinion...fans travel well and have lots to offer...

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