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Hall of famer VanSant passes

By Al Myatt

East Carolina hall of famer Dr. Henry VanSant died Thursday at age 70, having represented the Pirates as a player, coach and administrator over a span of six decades.

Henry VanSant was an East Carolina student, football player, coach, teacher and administrator during a sustained and remarkable period of growth in the university and in Pirate athletics. The 2003 edition of Bonesville Magazine featured a special "Pirate Time Machine" package, authored by Ron Cherubini, about VanSant's life and his front row seat as a devoted alum from the 1950's into the 21st century. The publication of the feature in print was preceded by a series of related online "teaser" articles by Cherubini, each of which is linked below:

Pedigreed Pirate betting on ECU's gumption

Old Coach has thing or two to say about coaching
LeClair hiring process made impact on VanSant

The Hampton, VA, native played center and linebacker in the then-East Carolina College football program from 1957 to 1960 under Coach Jack Boone, winning the E.E. Rawl Memorial Award for character, scholarship and athletic achievement in 1960.

VanSant received his bachelor's and master's degrees from East Carolina in 1961 and 1962, respectively.

VanSant became an assistant on the Pirate football staff under legendary single-wing coach Clarence Stasavich from 1962 to 1970, guiding East Carolina's freshmen team from 1962 to 1966, including the Pirates' only unbeaten first-year team in 1966.

He assisted on the Pirates' back-to-back Tangerine Bowl champions in 1964 and 1965.

VanSant received his doctoral degree in education from Alabama in 1975.

He worked on Pat Dye's coaching staff at ECU in 1979.

VanSant was a head coach on the high school level in North Carolina and also served in that capacity on the college level at Guilford and Lenoir-Rhyne.

Dr. VanSant began his administrative tenure at ECU in 1985 as an assistant to the athletic director before earning the title of associate athletic director two years later, a position he held until he retired in 2001.

He also served as interim athletic director following Dave Hart's departure in 1994. During that time, VanSant appointed Joe Dooley as men's basketball coach. Dooley compiled a 57-52 record with the Pirates.

In 1998, in his capacity as senior associate AD, VanSant oversaw the search process and conducted the interview that resulted in the hiring of Keith LeClair, who would be enshrined in ECU's Hall of Fame a year ahead of VanSant for his exploits as East Carolina's baseball coach. During his tenure, LeClair initiated the Pirates' current string of seven consecutive NCAA postseason appearances and publicly proclaimed that the program's objective was to reach the College World Series in Omaha, NE, a goal the team still embraces.

VanSant was enshrined in ECU's athletic hall in 2003.

He is survived by sons Chuck and John. His wife, the former Flora "Ronny" McDonald, preceded VanSant in death.

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This page updated 02/23/07 12:30 AM.

©2006 All rights rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. staff member Danny Whitford and an ECU Athletics release contributed to this report.


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