May 012013
 

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East Carolina athletics director Jeff Compher speaks to the Greater Greenville Sports Club at the Hilton on Tuesday. (Rhett Butler/The Daily Reflector)

East Carolina athletics director Jeff Compher speaks to the Greater Greenville Sports Club at the Hilton on Tuesday. (Rhett Butler/The Daily Reflector)

By Ronnie Woodward

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Jeff Compher views Greenville — East Carolina University in particular — as the hub of eastern North Carolina, and Tuesday was his first official day in charge of that hub’s athletic department.

Hours into his initial day as the Pirates’ athletics director, Compher spoke to the Greater Greenville Sports Club at the Hilton Greenville. Compher, who comes to ECU after a successful stint as Northern Illinois’ AD, talked about a variety of topics, including football scheduling and conference realignment. He is replacing Terry Holland, something he knows is not an easy task.

“I can’t tell you how many times someone has come up to me and said, ‘Wow Jeff how does it feel to follow a legend?’ or, ‘you have big shoes to fill,’” Compher said. “The good news for me is that you can’t be in this business without knowing what coach Holland has meant to intercollegiate athletics and especially ECU. … He’ll always be a resource for me and advisor for me, and he told me that he’s passed along the Pirate sabre to me and my vision is to raise the sabre of success for all of ECU athletics.”

In recent years, Holland helped initiate upgrades to many of the Pirates’ facilities. Compher said the facilities were an important factor in his decision to leave NIU for ECU.

The special attendees at the meeting included new Pirate Club Executive Director J. Batt, who also was in his first day in his new position, and Pirate football player Zico Pasut. Pasut was a lead blocker for 8-year-old Noah Roberts, who was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis a couple years ago, during his touchdown run at the Pirates’ spring football game last week.

Roberts’ run made a national splash, and Compher said those kinds of moments are what he expects from East Carolina’s athletes.

“After I saw it, I called (ECU football) coach Ruffin McNeill and congratulated him for how he and his team really took this young boy under their wings and helped him have a moment that he will always treasure,” said Compher, who was the athletics director at Northern Illinois for five years, including last football season when the Huskies became the first team from the Mid-American Conference to play in a BCS bowl. “They learned a valuable lesson about the impact they can have on another person’s life. … I believe that our fans want to support student-athletes who exhibit that strong character, and I think you will cheer a little harder when you know the good character of our teams.”

Compher’s immediate schedule includes numerous meetings, Pirate Club events and speaking engagements. He said the next month or so will be hectic, but he is glad he has arrived, partly because of conference realignment.

The Pirates’ will leave Conference USA on July 1, 2014, in favor of the recently formed and named American Athletic Conference.

“Being able to go to the Conference USA meetings in two weeks and then going to the American Athletic Conference meetings in three weeks, those are really important for me,” Compher said. “I want a seat at the table when they are making decisions.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 or follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

via The Daily Reflector.

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