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View from the East
Friday, October 17, 2003

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Dealing with madness — midnight & otherwise


In one sense the National Association of Basketball Coaches wants to stop the madness. In another sense, East Carolina is ready to start it — tonight at midnight.

ECU coach Bill Herrion has been jet-setting this week. He was in Chicago on Wednesday for a called meeting of the NABC, which sought to address some of the negative situations that have been revealed at Baylor, Iowa State, Georgia and St. Bonaventure in recent months.

Herrion was at North Ridge Country Club in Raleigh for a noon meeting on Thursday and appeared at Chico’s in Cary on Thursday evening. Herrion will be in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum tonight for “Midnight Madness,” a rouser to create excitement for the upcoming season.

The Pirates tip off the 2003-04 campaign on Nov. 22 at home against familiar Atlantic Sun Conference foe Campbell, which, incidentally, helped welcome new member East Tennessee State into its league on Thursday.

Admission tonight is free and the doors open at 10:30 p.m. There also will be free food and drinks for ECU students who have valid student identification. There will be a variety of contests for the students as well as performances by the cheerleaders and Solid Gold dancers.

The ECU team will be introduced at midnight with a slam dunk contest and a brief scrimmage to follow. ECU’s first official practice will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

Back to the setting in Chicago earlier this week where coaches had good motivation to attend. If they didn’t, there was the possibility that they could lose their tickets to the Final Four. Over 300 made it to the Windy City, including Herrion.

“There have obviously been some negative things in our game the last five or six months,” Herrion said, alluding to the various national scandals that have made the headlines. “We needed to come together and kind of address those things. The biggest thing is the ethics and conduct.

“People need to understand that the actions of a few have cast a negative light on the whole college game across the country — because of a few. I don’t think we have a problem in our game. I don’t think that’s the case at all.

“What we kind of came out of the meetings with is that we have to have a better relationship between our coaching fraternity and the NCAA. There are some rules that need to be changed and some rules that need to be looked at.”

Many coaches feel that a rule that needs to be addressed is one that limits scholarships to eight over two years and five for one year. Herrion said Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun stood up and talked about his situation with big man Emeka Okafor, who expects to graduate after his junior season and may then leave for the NBA. Calhoun said NCAA limitations may place him at less than 13 scholarship players with Okafor departing.

Closer to home, Herrion is expecting forward Jonathan Moore to transfer rather than play his senior season at ECU, and the Pirates may be at less than the 13-scholarship player limit as a result.

“That’s really a sticking point with coaches,” Herrion said.

Whether or not the NCAA decides if Keith Foster can be on scholarship this year also will impact ECU’s plans. His eligibility coming out of Winston-Salem Reynolds is still being evaluated by the NCAA.

“All of our coaches are unified around an action plan to further embrace the ethical and moral standards of our profession.” said Kelvin Sampson, NABC president and head coach at the University of Oklahoma, in a release from the NABC. “With this solidarity, we will share the best practices of all our members and move forward advocating a new season of change and accountability.”

At the meeting, the head coaches agreed to customize a code of ethics, for both players and coaches, to fit each specific program.

Herrion is among those who already has what amounts to a code of ethics in place.

“We talk with our kids about how to conduct themselves all of the time,” Herrion said. “There are a lot of programs out there trying to do it the right way. There are some programs out there cheating and cutting corners, but as far as a code of conduct, that’s something that we have already been doing. Those are things that are already being addressed in our program.”

The head coaches have agreed to send the code of ethics they develop back to the association within three weeks of the summit. Herrion has no problem with that.

“In this day and time, kids need constant reinforcement as things happen,” said the ECU coach. “As things happen with teams and individuals, we copy articles and make sure the kids read and are aware about it.”

The NABC also has announced plans to launch a five-session professional development program mandated for all Division I assistant coaches at this year’s annual Final Four convention in San Antonio. These professional development workshops will cover recruiting rules, diversity, coaching character, ethics and morals.

The fifth class will be a panel of athletic directors and university presidents discussing what they look for when hiring a head basketball coach. All current Division I head coaches also will reconvene at this same convention to discuss and take action on additional recommendations from the NABC. The ethics committee’s plan to review unacceptable behavior by coaches will also be presented.

Although fewer than 2 percent of the programs represented at the Chicago meeting have been involved in the serious problems that have rocked college basketball, the NABC's proactive approach to preventing further problems appears very healthy.

It’s time

That’s the unofficial theme the Pirates have adopted this season.

“It’s our third year in Conference USA and fifth year at ECU,” Herrion said. “We’ve put the pieces together. We have a good mix this year of older, veteran guys who have been through a lot of games and it’s time now to take that next step, so to say.”

ECU was 7-0 and 10-2 last season before finishing 12-15.

“I feel like we’ll take care of November and December,” Herrion said. “We’ve got to get better when we get into January and February in the league.”

Herrion is hopeful that C-USA’s move away from division play will also be a boost. Instead of playing programs such as Louisville, Marquette and Cincinnati twice, the Pirates will play home and home against Charlotte, UAB and South Florida.

C-USA departures?

If Louisville, Cincinnati, DePaul and Marquette bolt for the Big East as has been widely speculated, what kind of effect will that have on C-USA in general and ECU in particular?

“It would be a hit,” Herrion said. “You’re talking about marquee national programs. When we recruit, we sell East Carolina and the opportunity to play in a great league. We talk about the opportunity to play against Louisville and Marquette and these people. If they leave, it would be a hit — losing some quality programs.”


ECU has verbal commitments from Charles Bronson (6-10, 220) of Philadelphia Lutheran and Mike Castro (6-7, 235) of Allegany Junior College in Cumberland, Maryland.

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02/23/2007 12:41:31 AM

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