Oct 242014
 

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By MARC TRACYOCT. 23, 2014

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Bryce Williams with East Carolina teammates after a touchdown against Connecticut on Thursday. Credit Carolyn Van Houten for The New York Times

GREENVILLE, N.C. — On Tuesday nights in the fall, East Carolina Coach Ruffin McNeill, known to some as Ruff, conducts his call-in show at Logan’s Roadhouse, about a mile south of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Regulars reserve tables in advance.

This week, callers were curious about Connecticut, East Carolina’s opponent on Thursday night. The Pirates, who officially joined the American Athletic Conference in July, had never faced the Huskies.

When it was suggested that Connecticut, which entered Thursday with a minus-77 point differential, might not be so tough, McNeill disagreed. He told listeners in his gravelly voice: “They’re tough. They don’t flinch. So what we’ve got to do is make sure we play our ball, Pirate ball.”

Playing imperfectly Thursday night, the Pirates came away with a 31-21 win over the Huskies (1-6, 0-4) in a game filled with mistakes and penalties. The teams entered the fourth quarter tied at 21-21.

“I like the way this team fights to get to where we want, and that’s the conference championship,” the junior linebacker Zeek Bigger said.

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K’Hadree Hooker (9) and Frederick Presley (99) of East Carolina sacking Tim Boyle during a 31-21 victory over Connecticut on Thursday night. Credit Grant Halverson/Getty Images

“We’re going to keep playing till we fall,” he added. “And I don’t see us falling anytime soon.”

McNeill’s brand of Pirate ball, which encourages players to treat every task with the respect accorded difficult endeavors and which throws in the Texas-type offense expected from a Mike Leach acolyte, has the Pirates (6-1, 3-0) ranked 18th in The Associated Press’s poll.

Despite having annual athletic department revenue lower than that of all the universities in the so-called Big 5 conferences, East Carolina beat two Atlantic Coast Conference teams — winning at Virginia Tech a week after the Hokies had upset Ohio State and routing North Carolina, 70-41 — and was narrowly defeated on the road by South Carolina of the Southeastern Conference.

“East Carolina is a lot tougher game than maybe picking up one of those bottom Big Ten teams,” Gamecocks Coach Steve Spurrier said before that game.

On Tuesday, when the College Football Playoff selection committee releases its first set of rankings, the Pirates are the best bet to be the top-ranked team in what is commonly known as the Group of Five — the Football Bowl Subdivision conferences outside the Big 5 (the A.C.C., the SEC, the Big Ten, the Big 12 and the Pacific-12). This distinction will be more than trivia: The top-ranked conference champion from the Group of Five is guaranteed a spot in one of the six playoff-affiliated bowls.

That place would actually be a consolation prize for the American, which includes some football programs from the old Big East that were previously guaranteed a spot in a Bowl Championship Series bowl game.

“I don’t know if it’s guerrilla warfare, but we know we’re challengers,” said Mike Aresco, the commissioner of the American Athletic Conference. “I think we have to have a bit of a chip on our shoulder.”

Like its new conference, East Carolina, formerly of Conference USA, styles itself both proudly apart from and defiantly as good as any team in the Big 5. But it would gladly remove the chip from its shoulder in exchange for entrance into the elite; both its current athletic director and a former one said the university would not hesitate to join the A.C.C.

East Carolina is turning realignment on its head. Despite being a program left behind, it is poised to make the loudest statement in the 50-year history of its football team, which has featured players like the running backs Earnest Byner and Chris Johnson, quarterback David Garrard and fullback Vonta Leach.

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Pirates Coach Ruffin McNeill before Thursday’s victory over Connecticut. He has installed a potent Texas-type offense. Credit Carolyn Van Houten for The New York Times

“Building towards the upper echelon schools was always what East Carolina was about,” Byner said, “and Ruffin has taken it that way.”

This region — where Carolina is pronounced Car’lina, as in East Carolina’s alma mater, “To your name so fair, dear old East Car’lina”— is proudly provincial.

“Some people here believe we should be the 51st state,” Athletic Director Jeff Compher said. The Pirates have similarly been off the radar. They won 10 or more games only twice, in 1991 and last season. The Sporting News ranked them the 13th-best non-B.C.S. team of the B.C.S. era. Before this season, NFL.com picked seven non-Big 5 teams to watch, and East Carolina did not make the list. Sports Illustrated predicted Cincinnati (3-3, 1-1) would win the conference.

Do not tell any of that to East Carolina fans. Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium seats 50,000, and the Pirates are on pace to have the highest average attendance outside the Big 5 for the third straight year. On Thursday night, the official attendance was 40,152. In Raleigh and Charlotte, according to Compher, East Carolina’s television viewership eclipses North Carolina State’s and closely trails North Carolina’s.

McNeill, 56, knows a thing or two about Car’lina. He grew up in Lumberton, N.C., near the South Carolina border, and was a defensive back for the Pirates from 1976 to 1980.

But his offense is all Texas. McNeill spent nearly a decade as a defensive assistant at Texas Tech under Leach, a coach as responsible as any for the hegemony of spread, pass-heavy offenses in contemporary college football. Quarterback Shane Carden is one of two Texans on the East Carolina roster. The offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Lincoln Riley, was also an assistant under Leach. The offensive line coach, Brandon Jones, and outside receivers coach, Dave Nichol, played at Texas Tech, a Big 12 program.

Entering Thursday, East Carolina’s version of the so-called air raid offense had the fourth-most passing yards a game (371.3) in the Football Bowl Subdivision (Leach’s new team, Washington State, is first with 490) and the 12th-most points a game.

McNeill said he liked to cultivate a family atmosphere with his teams (he has even published a children’s book called “A Little Pirate’s ABCs”). This includes doling out discipline: Three freshmen were suspended indefinitely after a BB gun incident, and the top receiver Cam Worthy, a senior, was suspended two games for violating the student code of conduct.

During practice, McNeill prefers to spend most of his time interacting with players.

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East Carolina students held a fund-raiser at the game. Credit Carolyn Van Houten for The New York Times

“I have all girls — two daughters, a granddaughter, Samantha my dog, my wife,” he said. “But I’ve got 125 sons.”

In January 2010, McNeill rejected an offer to become Stanford’s defensive coordinator under Jim Harbaugh so he could return to East Carolina. At the time, the former athletic director Terry Holland was trying to build a bigger program. He had long lobbied to join the Big East, but the conference presidents did not cooperate.

Other than an in-conference spoiler like Cincinnati or Central Florida, (which finished last season ranked 10th after a bowl victory against Baylor), the biggest obstacle to the bowl spot for East Carolina is No. 23 Marshall (7-0, 3-0 Conference USA), which defeated East Carolina last season in the Pirates’ final game in the conference.

ESPN’s Football Power Index ranks Marshall higher than East Carolina, but the Thundering Herd have no Big 5 teams on their schedule.

Aresco, the American’s commissioner, was a leader in the push for a bowl-game guarantee.

“I remember arguing in that room that you couldn’t exclude half of college football,” he recalled of one heated meeting with commissioners who were designing the playoff. A conference receives $4 million, plus $2 million for expenses, for each team in a playoff-affiliated bowl.

“The revenue’s real, and it matters,” Aresco said. “We don’t have the kind of revenue the Big 5 schools have.”

And the Big 5’s autonomy could allow the richest universities to offer athletes more than colleges like East Carolina can provide, making it even more difficult for the Pirates to compete at the top. The American and Conference USA said they planned to match the Big 5 when it came to giving students the full cost of attendance, an amount typically a few thousand dollars higher than a scholarship, and to seriously consider scholarship guarantees and improved medical insurance.

Still, the Pirates refuse to believe there is a cap on their potential. Their sights are set on the playoff itself.

“The bigger goal is to figure out, is there a chance for us to be in that top four?” said Compher, the athletic director. “We have to shoot to be the top.”

McNeill agreed, saying: “I’ve coached at that level. We feel like we’re as good as any team in the country.”

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Oct 242014
 

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By Brian Haines
October 23, 2014

GREENVILLE — With the nation watching, No. 18 East Carolina didn’t exactly put its best foot forward, but somehow it managed to get past Connecticut, 31-21, Thursday night.

The Pirates (6-1, 3-0 American Athletic) committed 11 penalties for 105 yards and surrendered three touchdowns to a team that scored only six touchdowns all season. But they outscored UConn (1-6, 0-4) 10-0 in the fourth quarter to lock up bowl eligibility for the eighth time in the past nine seasons.

ECU quarterback Shane Carden threw a career-high 64 times and completed 38 of them for 445 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted once.

Pirates wide receiver Justin Hardy caught 14 of those passes for 186 yards and a score, while Cam Worthy had seven receptions for 138 yards.

East Carolina, which never trailed the Huskies, held a 14-7 lead at halftime and went into the fourth quarter tied at 21. The Pirates took a 24-21 lead when Warren Harvey, who missed a 33-yard field goal attempt in the second, converted a 31-yarder with 6 minutes, 15 seconds left in the fourth to put ECU up for good.

After another fourth-quarter stop by the East Carolina defense, the Pirates pieced together a 10-play, 76-yard drive that ended with Breon Allen juking his way for a nine-yard TD run with 1:25 remaining in the game to secure the lead and the Pirates best start since 1999.

UConn pulled even with the Pirates on its first possession of the third quarter when Thomas Noel grabbed a 32-yard TD pass from quarterback Chandler Whitmer to put the finishing touches on a six-play, 75-yard drive. Whitmer finished 18 for 30 for 303 yards passing with two TDs and an interception.

ECU reclaimed the lead on the ensuing drive as the Pirates opted to go for it on fourth-and-1 on the 1-yard line and scored on a1-yard run by Allen at the 8:58 mark.

The Huskies struck one more time in the third, as Whitmer hooked up with Deshon Foxx, who beat corner Josh Hawkins for an 88-yard TD to tie the game at 21.

In front of a charged crowd dressed in all black, the Pirates wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as they unleashed a 12-play 79-yard drive that ended when Hardy fought off a hold on cornerback Jhavon Williams to grab a 13-yard fade pass from Carden to take a 7-0 lead on their first possession.

The lead quickly grew to 14-0 when Carden zipped a 10-yard fade pass to 6-foot-6 inside receiver Bryce Williams, who stretched over Williams to complete a 47-yard drive.

The Huskies clawed back on their second possession, racing up field on a seven-play, 77-yard drive that was highlighted by a 43-yard play-action pass to Thomas Lucas, who managed to get past corner Detric Allen. The possession ended when Whitmer plunged across the goal line from one yard out.

The Pirates offense that looked as crisp as the autumn air that surrounded it in the first quarter, fell out of rhythm in the second. Penalties, dropped passes, an interception and a Harvey’s missed field goal ensured ECU would not reach the end zone again before halftime.

After failing to convert a fourth-and-two at the Huskies 45-yard line on their first drive of the second quarter, Pirates defensive lineman Terry Biles batted a Whitmer pass and pulled it in to give ECU possession at the UConn 33. However, the Pirates would give it right back, as Carden attempted to force a pass to Hardy in the back of the end zone and was intercepted by Byron Jones.

The Huskies were equally inept, and could not cash in on the turnover as a false start on a 47-yard field goal attempt forced coach Bob Diaco to reconsider and punt.

It was on the ensuing possession that ECU botched its own field goal attempt. After initially lining up for a 28-yard try, the Pirates were called for a delay of game penalty that moved Harvey back five yards and led to him missing his fourth field goal attempt out of his last five tries.

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Oct 242014
 

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By Nathan Summers
October 25, 2014

Another team played its best football game of the season against No. 18 East Carolina, and the Pirates were immovable again.

ECU found itself in a 21-21 deadlock heading into the fourth quarter Thursday against Connecticut, which entered the game ranked near or at the bottom of the nation in almost every offensive facet of the game. The hapless Huskies bared their teeth in the second half, snapping up two touchdowns on long pass plays in the third quarter to help forge a late impasse.

But a Warren Harvey field goal midway through the fourth quarter put the Pirates in the lead again, and senior tailback Breon Allen scampered into the end zone on a 9-yard rush with 1 minutes, 25 seconds to play to clinch a 31-21 American Athletic Conference victory in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

With the win, the Pirates (6-1, 3-0 AAC) are bowl eligible for the eighth time in nine years.

“We got a team’s best shot two weeks in a row,” ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill said, referring to his team’s rally to victory against South Florida in the Pirates’ previous game. “I’m proud of our team, proud of our coaches. After the game, the words that came out of my mouth first were brave, courageous and lionhearted. I told them to not dare try to defend their win.”

Facing fierce pressure all night from the UConn defensive front, ECU quarterback Shane Carden still unleashed 445 pass yards and a couple of touchdowns as part of 580 yards of total offense by the Pirates.

Carden zipped TD passes to fellow senior Justin Hardy (team-high 14 receptions for 186 yards) and Bryce Williams, and senior receiver Cam Worthy added a huge 138 yards on seven grabs to pace the Pirates on another night with long offensive lulls.

“We didn’t play our best, but when we needed to, we made a play to win this game,” Carden said, noting that an experienced UConn defensive backfield adjusted to the Pirates’ attack, utilizing one man high in coverage with effectiveness in the second half. “We got the running game going a little bit better in the second half, but you’ve just got to adjust throughout the game.”

With ECU clutching a 14-7 lead at the half, UConn (1-6, 0-4) grabbed the momentum in the third quarter when primary passer Chandler Whitmer (303 yards, two TDs) rifled a pass to Noel Thomas along the left sideline where the receiver left ECU corner Detric Allen on his stomach while he raced untouched to the end zone to tie the game 14-14.

Allen (team-high 65 rush yards, two TDs) capped a 10-play drive later in the third with a 1-yard TD dive to reset the Pirates’ one-touchdown edge, 21-14. But the Huskies got the ball back late in the third and Whitmer was at it again, this time hitting Deshon Foxx (4-120-1) on another seam along the left sideline, and this time it was ECU corner Josh Hawkins biting and being left prone on the field to watch in vain Foxx’s 88-yard TD that made it 21-21.

“We made a few mistakes, but you’re going to mess up on some big plays and you may give up some deep balls and some runs, but we came back in the second half, we adjusted and once again we came together as a team,” said Hawkins, who made three tackles and his team’s lone pass breakup. “We pulled it together to get the win. (Hawkins’ busted coverage) was a major mistake and could have cost us the win, and we’re not satisfied about that.”

Inside linebackers Brandon Williams and Zeek Bigger made nine tackles each to lead ECU, which limited Connecticut to 84 rushing yards.

After missing from 33 yards in the first half, Harvey successfully split the uprights to end a six-play drive and made it 24-21 Pirates before Allen broke loose around the right side for the game’s final tally with less than 2 minutes to play.

ECU, one game removed from a 12-flag nightmare against South Florida, had 11 penalties to UConn’s 12 on Thursday night.

“It was a conference win and I’m proud of it,” McNeill said. “We find out something about our team each week and I like what I’m finding out.”

The Pirates rocketed out of the gate to score touchdowns on their first two possessions, but they were silenced for the remainder of the half while the Huskies notched their initial first quarter TD of the season to keep it a tight 14-7 contest at halftime.

ECU squandered numerous chances to grow its early 14-0 edge, including failing to convert a fourth-and-4 early in the second quarter and Carden being intercepted in the end zone on the following drive. With time winding down in the second and the Pirates driving thanks to a 36-yard reception by Worthy and a 21-yard strike to Hardy over the middle to set up first-and-goal, Harvey missed his fourth field goal in five tries to end the half and keep the game in contention.

Carden, under furious pressure from the Huskies’ front seven on almost every snap, threw for 268 yards and Hardy accrued 90 receiving yards in the opening half. Allen led an anemic Pirate rush with just 15 yards in that span.

The Pirates marched 79 yards on 12 plays on their opening drive with Carden lobbing a high pass to Hardy for an acrobatic TD and a 7-0 lead. Carden capped a 10-play drive later in the first with a 10-yard TD throw to leaping tight end Bryce Williams to make it 14-0.

But UConn bounced back into the game immediately, going seven plays the other direction, where Whitmer plowed through the pile for a 1-yard scoring surge to cut the lead in half.

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Oct 242014
 

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By Ronnie Woodward
October 24, 2014

Ryan Broyles is the only one Justin Hardy has left to chase.

Hardy, East Carolina’s star senior receiver, caught 14 passes in the Pirates’ 31-21 win over Connecticut on Thursday night to pass two players and move into second place on the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision list for career receptions.

The 14 catches were three shy of Hardy’s career high and they upped his career total to 327. Broyles had 349 receptions for Oklahoma from 2008-11.

One of Hardy’s niftiest grabs against UConn came on the Pirates’ first drive, when he fought off aggressive cornerback Jhavon Williams for an acrobatic, juggling catch in the back right corner of the end zone. After the touchdown, the Pirates declined a penalty on Williams for holding.

Hardy also continues to pull away from second-place Dwayne Harris in multiple school-record categories, including career receiving yards. Hardy’s season-high 186 yards give him 3,826 for his career, which is 825 more than Harris.
The Blackout

The Pirates (6-1) stuck with the traditional purple smoke for their purple haze entrance onto Bagwell Field, but it was otherwise mostly a blackout at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Highlighting the promotion was the midfield Pirate State of Mind logo, which was painted black with white serving as the only secondary color. Most of the announced crowd of 40,152 wore black and the American Athletic Conference logos and end zones were painted exclusively black and white instead of the normal purple and gold.

The ECU players wore all black uniforms, and the win kept the Pirates undefeated while wearing black jerseys during the 2013 and ’14 seasons.
Brown sidelined

ECU standout freshman receiver Trevon Brown made a catch for 15 yards early in the game, but he headed to the locker accompanied by athletic trainers late the first quarter and it was announced at halftime that he would not play the rest of the night because of a left knee injury.

Brown came into the game tied for second on the team in receiving touchdowns (four) and fourth in receiving yards (249).
No Benkert

The Pirates were a heavy home favorite for the second straight time — favored by 40 against SMU on Oct. 4 and 28 against UConn — but weren’t able to get backup quarterback Kurt Benkert into the game.

Senior starter Shane Carden played the entire time and finished with a season-high 445 passing yards. His 64 pass attempts were a career high and one short of the school record held by Dominique Davis.

Benkert, a redshirt freshman from Cape Coral, Fla., has played in two games this year (N.C. Central and North Carolina).
The passing lane

Connecticut (1-6) came into the contest ranked near the bottom of the FBS in multiple offensive categories, but it found holes in the East Carolina secondary after halftime and actually had more passing yards than the Pirates during the third quarter (163 compared to 115).

But after Warren Harvey’s field goal gave ECU a 24-21 edge about halfway through the fourth, UConn had a run of a yard and two incomplete passes before punting on possibly the most important drive of the night.

The Pirates — thanks to Carden finding Hardy early and often for chunks of yardage — finished with a 580-397 advantage in total yards.
Thursday Night Lights

The win improved East Carolina to 6-8 all-time in Thursday games and 17-19 in non-Saturday contests.

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Oct 242014
 

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Posted: Oct 24, 2014
By Brandon Goldner

GREENVILLE, N.C. – With East Carolina University football’s win over U-Conn, it’s a special victory for one ECU “super-fan” who has a unique friendship with coach Ruffin McNeill.

Yancey Warren was actually dormmates with Coach Ruff from 1977 through 1981 at the school.

He said he’s beyond proud of his college friend for shaping ECU football to what it is today.

Warren has a lot of memories from spending time with Coach Ruff in college.

“Some of the memories I can tell you about; some of them we have to keep secret. It’s a code,” Warren said. “But I can remember the, excuse me, old panty raids there. We take everything down to the quarterback, see how good his arm was, see if he could throw and hit the certain people down below.”

Check out the attached video to this article to see how Warren is honoring Coach Ruff’s legacy.

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Oct 242014
 

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Ed Caram The Washington Post The German submarine U-576, seen with its crew in this undated photograph, sank with all hands aboard on July 14, 1942, after attacking a U.S. convoy off the coast of North Carolina. The submarine’s wreckage, along with that of the freighter it sunk, was found in August.

Published October 23. 2014 4:00AM

MICHAEL E. RUANE The Washington Post

Publication: The Day

The U-boat skipper, Hans-Dieter Heinicke, had a crippled submarine and was headed home when he spotted the juicy allied convoy off the coast of North Carolina.

Although Heinicke, 29, had a damaged boat, he had sunk only three ships on his four prior patrols, and probably saw the 19 merchant vessels of convoy KS-520 plodding south at eight knots as a chance to redeem himself.

About 4 p.m. on July 15, 1942, about 30 miles off Cape Hatteras, U-576 attacked. In the ensuing free-for-all, the sub sank one ship and damaged two others, but was assailed by aircraft and escorts, and sank with all hands.

On Tuesday, researchers announced that they had discovered the wreck of U-576, as well as the wreck of the sunken merchant ship, and hailed the find as a rare snapshot of a little known chapter of World War II.

The two ships were found in August in 690 feet of water a few hundred yards apart following a five-year search headed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

In making the announcement, NOAA also released a striking series of wartime photographs of U-576 and its crew that had been gathered by a North Carolina U-boat historian, Ed Caram, who died last year.

NOAA also made public a sonar image taken of the U-boat on the bottom of the ocean, where it is resting on its starboard side.

“This, to my mind, is just a monument to World War II history,” said NOAA maritime archaeologist Joe Hoyt, the chief investigator on the project. “We have this notion generally that World War II happened in Europe and the South Pacific.”

Here is “a World War II battlefield that’s literally right in our back yard,” he said. “The ocean kind of swallows up these stories. And now we have the ability and the technology to go out and kind of get them back.”

The battle off Cape Hatteras came during a period of intense warfare between convoys and U-boats in the area in the first six months of U.S. involvement in World War II, said Hoyt, who is based in Newport News, V.

Allied ships were headed up and down the East Coast, and U-boats preyed on them, Hoyt said.

An estimated 90 vessels – including four U-boats – were sunk off North Carolina between January and July 1942. It was “almost a ship every other day going down,” he said.

By July 1942, though, the convoys were heavily guarded by aircraft and warships. Convoy KS-520 was escorted by five Navy and Coast guard vessels as well as Navy aircraft.

U-576, with its heraldic lion motif painted on the conning tower, had suffered serious and irreparable damage to its main ballast tank from an earlier aircraft attack, Hoyt said. And the skipper had decided to head for home.

But the sub hadn’t bagged a single ship since it left its base in St. Nazaire, France, on June 16, and Heinicke probably was tempted by the convoy, Hoyt said.

“They got quite a lot of reward when they returned to Germany, based on the level of tonnage that they sunk,” Hoyt said. If you sank a lot of ships, “you get a parade in Berlin, and all the girls love you.”

“So to return from a patrol, which would often be more than a month, without having really sunk much would be a pretty big bummer for these guys,” he said.

Yet even before the U-boat could attack, it was detected by a Coast Guard escort, which dropped depth charges.

The submerged boat closed in anyway and fired four torpedoes, sinking the old Nicaraguan flagged freighter, Bluefields, and damaging two other ships without causing loss of life, a NOAA account of the battle said.

Hoyt said that because of the lost weight of the four torpedoes and the broken ballast system, the U-boat couldn’t stay submerged and popped to the surface in the middle of the convoy. “They were immediately pounced on,” he said.

An armed merchant vessel opened fire with its deck gun, and two Navy escort planes swooped in and dropped more depth charges. The U-boat sank with its crew, most of whom were probably in their 20s, Hoyt said.

Several of Caram’s photographs show members of the crew in happier times posing or horsing around on deck.

Hoyt said researchers knew the location of three of the U-boats sunk off North Carolina, but were not sure of U-576′s location. “Nobody knew where it was,” he said.

In partnership with East Carolina University and the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, NOAA began searching the waters where the convoy battle was known to have happened in 2009.

During a series of expeditions, researchers using data from archives and small robot submersibles, scoured the ocean floor with sonar until they located the likely wreck of the Bluefields last year.

Knowing the U-boat must be nearby, they focused their search for the sub earlier this year around the presumed Bluefields wreck. “Lo and behold another target . . . was picked up,” Hoyt said. But the image was vague, and a sharper one was needed.

In August, the scientists went back for a closer look. Hoyt said the team was huddled around a computer screen on a NOAA research ship as sonar data was downloaded from a submersible.

“We’re kind of sweating it out,” he said.

The first image that came through was from an odd angle and was not clear, but after a small adjustment the unmistakable sonar profile of a submarine appeared.

“Everyone was just like, ‘Whoaaa!’ ” he said. “It was pretty great.”

“We were all hugging each and going nuts,” he said. “There was much celebration. . . . It was that clear. It was totally unmistakable.”

NOAA said the German government still owns the U-boat, and has asked the United States to protect the site. The U.S. recognizes German ownership and has pledged its protection, NOAA said.

U-576 is now “a war grave,” Hoyt said. “We believe there are 45 German sailors inside.”

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Oct 242014
 

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By Bethany Ao
October 22, 2014

“Isn’t engineering for guys?” As a high school senior, Christine Schindler heard comments like that over and over when she decided to study biomedical engineering at Duke University.

“My family really encouraged me to pursue a career in engineering,” Schindler said. “But it was impossible to ignore the huge gender gap between men and women in the field.”

Only 18 to 20 percent of engineers across the U.S. are women, and only 18 percent of those studying to be engineers in universities are women, according to a recent article published by American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Those statistics motivated Schindler, now a senior at Duke, to found Girls Engineering Change in summer 2012, a nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the gender gap in engineering.

Girls Engineering Change focuses on connecting local middle school and high school girls with college mentors to help them learn develop a better understanding of what engineering is like. Schindler and her team hold monthly events during which girls work with mentors to build things like medical equipment testers, clean-burning stoves and water filters.

“We usually try to pair one mentor with two girls,” Schindler said. “And the girls get to experience lots of different curriculums.” Over the summer, the girls built solar-powered USB chargers that were donated to the American Red Cross.

Learning and fun

Girls Engineering Change partners with different organizations, which then send them supplies and designs for products. Before an event, Schindler will reach out to schools and museums in the area to ask girls to come. Her team will also reserve a lab space where the girls can work. After the products are made, they are sent back to the partnering organization. Because Schindler’s vision was to connect health issues to engineering, the partnering organization is often one tied to global health.

“The girls really enjoy these events because they get to learn something new, even if they didn’t want to come at first,” she said. “They really like working with their mentors, and we get awesome feedback from their parents as well. We’re trying to dispel the stereotypes surrounding engineering and show the girls that they can be engineers if they want to be.”

Dutch Waanders, chief programming officer of Girls Engineering Change and a Duke senior, also volunteers as a mentor.

“It’s awesome being a mentor,” he said. “I get to meet two new girls with completely different aspirations and see their perceptions of engineering and themselves change.”

Waanders said he thinks it’s important to decrease the gender gap in engineering because there is already a significant shortage of engineers compared with the population. With so few women in the field, misrepresentation can result in needs for the rest of the population being overlooked.

“My next door neighbor is an engineer,” Waanders said. “She came out of college and got a job with a really great salary, but she had to work alongside a lot of men who were older than her and (she) really didn’t enjoy it. Now she switched to another firm, and I think she enjoys it a lot more because there are younger people and more women.”

Girls Engineering Change will hold their first event of the semester this Saturday in conjunction with Duke SPLASH, an organization that helps middle school and high school students participate in small, interactive seminars taught by Duke students. The girls will build interactive electrocardiogram simulators that will be donated to the nonprofit group Engineering World Health.

That session is full, but others are planned.

Schindler said the growing GEC organization has reached more than 500 girls and has spread to a handful of other universities, including UNC and Cornell. Schindler and the group have also gotten attention from U.S. News and the the Clinton Global Initiative.

“I’m really fortunate to have a lot of people on board,” she said. “We’re really excited about becoming a nonprofit and seeing so much growth in the last two years.”

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Oct 242014
 

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By Jane Stancill
October 23, 2014

Carol Folt arrived in Chapel Hill last year from the Ivy League, excited about her new job as chancellor, but unable to get people to focus on the future.

A cloud hung over UNC-Chapel Hill: The crisis that had enveloped academics and athletics for three years still carried unanswered questions – how did the bogus classes for athletes start, and why?

Within months, she started examining emails of Deborah Crowder, a former manager in the African studies department, that hadn’t previously surfaced. Not far away, District Attorney Jim Woodall was wrapping up an inquiry that involved Crowder and her boss. There was scant criminal conduct, Woodall decided, but there was a lot of troubling activity.

In both cases, Folt and her boss, UNC system President Tom Ross, decided they had to know more. Their solution: Hire former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein.

Wainstein’s report, delivered Wednesday, shook the UNC campus and made news around the country. The classes had existed for nearly 20 years; they involved more than 3,100 students; and they were pushed by academic counselors trying to keep athletes eligible to play ball.

Folt said Thursday that to get to the future, the university had to clear up its past.

“I certainly learned from the day I arrived in North Carolina that this was an issue and that the lingering doubts were really hurting the institution,” she said in a meeting with News & Observer reporters and editors.

At the time of Folt’s introduction, Woodall was encountering the primary perpetrators of the academic mess, Crowder and former department chairman Julius Nyang’oro.

Woodall was directing a State Bureau of Investigation inquiry that had turned up a morass of unethical behavior – with more than Crowder and Nyang’oro involved. Woodall told Ross that a high-level investigation would be necessary to bring closure, and they wouldn’t like what they would find.

“You’re going to find things that surprise you,” Woodall said he told Ross. “You’re going to find things that go much deeper than you think.”

And, he said, he was pretty sure that Crowder and Nyang’oro were ready to cooperate.

An outsider looks in

That gave Wainstein plenty to work with. His report detailed a massive academic and athletic scandal that started in 1993, with athletes making up nearly half of the enrollments in the classes that were listed as lectures but had no class meetings and no faculty instruction.

The scheme was masterminded primarily by Crowder, with Nyang’oro going along. The athletes only had to write a paper, and the papers were often heavily plagiarized. Along the way, some administrators, coaches and faculty knew aspects of what was happening but failed to stop it.

Folt said she knew that the university could not conduct the investigation.

“There was a lot of cloud and suspicion, and it was clear to me that if we were going to go deeper into emails, we would need to bring in somebody else to do that,” she said. “I chose very intentionally not to get involved in it at that point because I wanted to make sure that when it did happen, it would have full independence.”

And, she said, she took the UNC-CH job knowing full well that if new information came to light, she would have the responsibility to find the truth.

Ross said Woodall provided a crucial link.

“I think the real key was getting access to Deborah Crowder and then subsequently to Nyang’oro,” Ross said. “It’s like any other crime, or scheme or whatever you want to call it. You can’t get to the bottom of it sometimes without access to key witnesses. We just didn’t have that access until Mr. Woodall made it possible.”

Woodall said he met with Wainstein, giving him a verbal report – a kind of road map of where to look. “We literally sat down with them and said, ‘You need to look at this person, this person and this person.’ ”

Who knew what?

Wainstein, Ross, Folt and Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham talked with N&O reporters and editors, outlining the genesis and results of the investigation and their thoughts about the findings. Among them:

• Wainstein said the toughest part of the investigation was figuring out how much different people knew about the misconduct. Some knew there were independent study classes that were too easy – knowledge of that, he said, “is not a federal offense.” But others knew that Crowder – who was not a faculty member – was running the sham classes and grading the papers.

“That’s the critical knowledge that we tried to get to,” Wainstein said, “because then anyone associated with the university should step up and say, ‘This is wrong.’ ”

• Cunningham said he expected that NCAA investigators, in their second round of work in Chapel Hill, would examine transcripts of players in the bogus classes.

• Folt said she won’t disclose the nine employees facing termination or disciplinary action because she wants to do things right, to make sure everyone has their due process rights. Ross said it was complicated. Some employees are governed by the State Personnel Act, while others are covered by university rules and faculty rights.

• Folt and Ross said they believe the university can excel in both academics and athletics. Sports, they said, have real value for bonding alumni and giving students opportunities. But they both acknowledged that major issues face U.S. college athletics and that big changes are ahead in the next five years.

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