By Nathan Summers
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Jeff Compher used the word “championships” numerous times as he spoke about becoming the director of athletics at East Carolina on Wednesday, including when he was asked how he hopes his tenure at ECU will be remembered in the long term.
Compher, who was named to replace retiring ECU Director of Athletics Terry Holland, was at the helm for four conference championships in his final year as AD at Northern Illinois alone, and he said he expects to keep right on winning them with the Pirates.
“(I want) an era of championships, one where we look back and say this was an era of conference championships, national championships, All-Americans, Academic All-Americans, tops in our class in the conference in academics, graduation rates, GPA,” Compher told media members, administrators and fans at a news conference at the Murphy Center.
The Baltimore native said he knows the foundation at ECU is solid, and experienced ECU indirectly as a former AD at Western Carolina, a long-time administrator at N.C. State and a former Greenville resident.
Replacing Holland means creating a new identity for the athletic program, but Compher won’t alter Holland’s game plan for long-term achievement through winning and academic success.
Like the AD before him, Compher wants ECU’s teams to focus on conference championships.
“The way that we can insure success is by winning our conference,” Compher said. “When you win your conference, postseason is a guarantee, and I think that’s something we need to strive for.”
Compher is mindful that while the Big East is the destination for ECU football and ultimately its other sports — as ECU chancellor Dr. Steve Ballard confirmed on Wednesday — this is no time to look too far ahead.
“We’re in Conference USA this year, and we want to be sure that we’re competitive and win some Conference USA championships,” he said. “I don’t want to get too far ahead of the game and take our eye off the ball of what’s most important, and this year that’s Conference USA.”
Such emphasis on winning caught the attention of everyone, including Ballard.
“It’s the kind of choice you want, when you know you have five or six people that you know can add something to your program, but in the end I thought Jeff was just above the rest,” Ballard said of the search process. “What was even more important were national-level leaders who attested to what kind of a person he was.”
A couple of people set to work with Compher very closely said they’re excited for the new era to begin.
“I think he’s got a plan and done it, and I like the fact that he’s been at several universities and had a part in all phases (of athletics),” ECU football coach Ruffin McNeill said of Compher. “I’m excited about his plan of comprehensive excellence. Playing for conference championships is his main priority, and I like that too.”
ECU baseball coach Billy Godwin was part of the 15-member search committee for the new AD, forcing him to devote some extra time to the ECU cause during his busiest time of the year.
“He brings a great background and knowledge, and it’s going to be exciting working with him,” Godwin said of Compher. “The chancellor and (board of trustees) did such a good job of having all the information for us, so it was more a matter of our input. It was an honor to be on the committee and play a part in this next legacy at East Carolina.”
Contact Nathan Summers at email@example.com or 252-329-9595.
via The Daily Reflector.