Dec 132012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

In 2004, the year that East Carolina University hired Terry Holland as the school’s athletics director, the Pirates limped to a two-win season under Head Coach John Thompson and Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium held a maximum of 43,000 fans. The men’s basketball team tied for 12th place in Conference USA, though the university would open the stunning Clark-LeClair Stadium in a matter of months.

To deny the transformation of Pirate sports that have come under the leadership and direction of Holland is to forget the state of affairs when he accepted the position he now plans to depart. The East Carolina community should be sincerely grateful to him for the strides made under his watch, and hope that his successor can extend that record of achievement in the years to come.

Wednesday brought the surprise announcement that Holland, after eight years at the helm of Pirate sports, would move into an emeritus position upon selection of a new athletics director. Holland intends to assist the search process for his replacement and then to serve in an unspecified development capacity, presumably as a trusted voice on matters involving Pirate athletics.

There is no question that he leaves the university in far better shape than when he arrived.

As with most athletics directors, that begins with the expansion of infrastructure, which has been dramatic since 2004. The Olympic Sports Complex — soon to be renamed in his honor — is the pride of those improvements, giving world-class facilities to the school’s non-revenue sports. A 7,000-seat expansion of the football stadium and the construction of a basketball practice facility are laudable additions.

On-the-field results have also turned upward. East Carolina football, the jewel of the athletics program, was mired in failure at the end of 2004 when Holland hired Skip Holtz, who would win two conference titles. Basketball has made great strides, as have other sports such as track and field, swimming and diving and baseball.

Most importantly, Holland was instrumental in recently seeing the Pirates gain a football-only invitation to the Big East Conference. All of those — the infrastructure, the wins and the conference membership — are steps forward for the program, the school and the community.

That is not to say that the Clinton native has avoided all missteps, but his experience, ability and reputation have served the university well. His time at East Carolina nearing an end, Holland has more than earned the abiding appreciation of the Pirate faithful, who have watched him change their landscape for the better.

via The Daily Reflector.


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