In a time that presents financial challenges, East Carolina athletics has received its biggest donation ever. The gift from Grady-White Boats in Greenville will allow the Pirates to build a state of the art weight training facility in proximity to current athletic facilities.
In recognition of the pledge, signs along streets around ECU’s athletic facilities will designate the area as the Grady-White Boats Athletic Campus.
“Pirates need their boats,” said ECU athletic director Jon Gilbert as he announced the bequest on Friday without disclosing the amount at the request of manufacturing company owner Eddie Smith.
Founded in 1959, Grady‐White Boats builds 26 models from 18 to 45 feet at its 500,000 square‐foot plant in Greenville, according to a university release. The company is renowned for the design, craftsmanship and performance of its innovative coastal and offshore boats.
ECU’s current weight training area is located in the Murphy Center at the East end of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
Grady-White Boats Athletic Campus signs will be placed at the main entrance to the athletics complex off Charles Boulevard as well as the entrance to Clark‐LeClair Stadium, Fieldside Drive, Berkley and 14th Street, and Charles Boulevard and Ficklen Drive.
The new weight training building will be constructed in the vicinity of the baseball, softball and track facilities, pending an approval process.
“We felt like a weight room was a really good investment that would impact all of our student-athletes,” Gilbert said.
All of ECU’s teams as well as cheer and dance units currently work out on the first floor of the Murphy Center.
Marshall game moved back
ECU’s season-opening football game with Marshall has been moved again, Gilbert said. Originally set for Sept. 5., it was announced on Feb. 20 that the game had been reset for Aug. 29.
With the state of North Carolina remaining in the second phase of reopening through August, Gilbert and his Marshall counterpart, Mike Hamrick, are working on a new date. The contest will return to Sept. 5 or be pushed to Sept. 12, according to reports.
The schools anticipate a joint announcement on the new playing date next week.
ECU coach Mike Houston said the additional time would allow the Pirates to address some areas in terms of evaluation and development that were precluded due to the cancellation of spring practice because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Houston expected to give the team some more days off with the extra time and schedule more sessions with strength and conditioning coach John Williams Jr.
On Saturday morning, Houston sent the Pirates onto Bagwell Field at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in what will become the Grady-White Boats Athletic Campus.
The Pirates coach said in retrospect that everybody needed some work, including the officials, whose whistles apparently were not sufficiently audible at times.
The defense was ahead of the offense, Houston said, with a high level of energy and enthusiasm under new coordinator Blake Harrell.
Transfer Robert Kennedy had a pair of interceptions. Houston cited the play of linebacker Jireh Wilson, who had a pick and a fumble recovery, as well as kicker Jake Verity, who worked through an offseason medical issue to boot four field goals with a longest of 44 yards.
Quarterbacks Holton Ahlers, Bryan Gagg, Mason Garcia, Taji Hudson, Ryan Stubblefield and Alex Flinn combined to complete 19 of 48 passes with five interceptions.
The lone touchdown came on a 23-yard pass from Stubblefield to Cam Burnette in the waning stages.
The defense got stops on 16 of 21 possessions.
Houston said he expected the offense to be sharper in the next scrimmage.
Garcia good, Jones on hold
In an update on player eligibility, Houston said Garcia had been approved to play this season by the NCAA.
“He can make all the throws,” Houston said.
Ryan Jones, who played linebacker at Oklahoma, needs one credit to graduate in Norman and will not join the Pirates until January.