East Carolina’s long-suffering journey along the bumpy roads of NCAA Division I basketball reached another crossroads late Friday as head coach Joe Dooley was relieved of his duties for the second time in 23 years.
ECU athletic director Jon Gilbert announced Dooley’s departure from the program in a press release that was issued minutes after WNCT-TV sportscaster Brian Bailey broke the news in a tweet at 5:13 p.m.
Gilbert indicated that he had let Dooley and his staff and the team’s players know about the move earlier in the evening.
“… I informed Joe Dooley, staff and our student-athletes we are going to move forward with a new leader of our men’s basketball program,” Gilbert stated, adding that he appreciated Dooley’s contributions. “For the last four seasons, Joe has worked tirelessly to improve our basketball program and I thank him for his dedication and commitment since the day he was hired. We wish him well in his future endeavors.”
“We are committed to building a winning program and developing young men who are leaders on and off the court. Thanks to the generosity of our Pirate Club supporters, we have the facilities and fan base here to attract a top candidate,” Gilbert added.
Dooley had a successful five-year run at the helm of the Florida Gulf Coast program that included two NCAA Tournament bids and two NIT appearances before beginning his second stint with the Pirates on April 5, 2018.
Dooley play college basketball at George Washington and then began his coaching career as an assistant coach at South Carolina in 1988.
He followed fellow Gamecocks assistant Eddie Payne to ECU in 1991 when Payne took the helm of the Pirates.
At 29 years old, Dooley was the nation’s youngest head coach when he was promoted to the position in 1995 after Payne departed for Oregon State.
Dooley was fired by former ECU AD Mike Hamrick in 1999 despite leading the program to a 57-52 record over four years. It was the only time an ECU coach finished a stint at the helm of the Pirates with a winning record.
Dooley spent the succeeding 19 years as an assistant coach at New Mexico, Wyoming and Kansas before taking the top job at Florida Gulf Coast in 2013.
He spent 10 of those years on Bill Self’s Jayhawks staff, a period that included Kansas defeating Memphis for the national championship in 2008 with a collection of talent heavily influenced by Dooley’s recruiting prowess.
Dooley compiled a 101-119 record in eight overall seasons in charge of the Pirates, including a 15-15 record in 2021-22. His overall record as a head coach is 215-177.