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View from the 'ville
Sunday, August 9, 2009

By Al Myatt

Dowdy-Ficklen set for growth spurt

ECU will add seats at East end

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

East Carolina will be moving ahead on expansion of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium following the 2009 season, according to Jimmy Bass, senior associate athletic director, who was on hand for ECU's football media day in Harvey Hall of the Murphy Center on Saturday.

Work is supposed to begin after the last home game of the upcoming season, which could be as late as Dec. 5, the date of the Conference USA championship game.

The project that will add approximately 7,000 seats at the East end of Bagwell Field has been approved by the university's board of trustees. The new seating will essentially enclose the structure and raise capacity to roughly 50,000.

An architectural firm is working on plans for the new addition. Bass said seating assignments for the stadium, which opened with a capacity of 17,000 in 1963, will be redone for 2010 — a potential source of revenue for the pending project.

Bass said that 21,207 season tickets had been sold for the 2009 home games as of 5 p.m. on Friday and he was confident that ECU's entire 22,000 allotment would be purchased before the Pirates open in Greenville against football championship division power Appalachian State on Sept. 5.

Athletic director Terry Holland had indicated earlier that the level of ongoing support of Pirate football would be a factor that would be considered in making a decision on stadium expansion.

Bass said the football stadium expansion would be privately funded. Cost projections should be completed in October.

A lead gift of $750,000 has been made by Tap Johnson, III, of Burlington, toward the development of an Olympic sports park, which also will utilize funding from student fees.

Consideration for "Rock"

ECU football coach Skip Holtz addressed the wishes of assistant Thomas "Rock" Roggeman concerning the treatment the defensive tackles coach is receiving for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which was diagnosed in June. Holtz said Roggeman did not want his medical situation to become a distraction for the team as it prepares for the 2009 season.

Roggeman will continue his staff duties, according to Holtz.

"Coach Roggeman is going through some difficult times," Holtz said. "Rock was diagnosed with a form of cancer in June and began his treatments in July to go through this battle and fight that he has taken on. Rock has asked that we keep this as a family situation. He doesn't want to detract from what this season is all about, these seniors and the players.

"He does not want to be the main story in this entire thing, which tells you a little about his unselfish nature. Everybody knows about his great excitement, enthusiasm and passion. We have a great respect for him and this battle he is going through at this time.

"Having people on our staff like Coach (Todd) Fitch (offensive coordinator), who has gone through a similar situation and been through a year where he had to battle the cancer and the treatments, has been very helpful to Rock as well.

"We have a great respect for Rock. At this point, it is not something that is going to affect his coaching ability. Right now we're going to play it day by day, and right now Rock is doing a great job of taking care of his body and doing the things he had to do in order to be out on the practice field at this time."

Personnel moves

Holtz updated the status of a number of players on Saturday. Running back Jonathan Williams has been reinstated following his suspension at midseason in 2008 following his arrest on assault charges.

Running back Norman Whitley is back in the program after being suspended for unspecified violations of team standards prior to spring practice. Whitley is not currently a member of the 105-man roster because he is undergoing rehabilitation for a hip-groin ailment.

Offensive lineman Doug Palmer also has been reinstated but is in the same situation as Whitley while he rehabs from shoulder surgery. The rehab list also includes linebacker Matt Pick, defensive lineman Robert Jones, wide receiver T.J. Terrell, fullback Ben Herlocker and offensive lineman C.J. Brown.

Defensive back Emanuel Davis has also been reinstated from a suspension.

Holtz expressed his best wishes to players including receiver D.J. McFadden, linebacker Lorenzo Osborne, defensive back Julian Carter and defensive back DeAndre Jones, who have left the program.

The Pirates coach announced a group that has received scholarships which includes receiver Reyn Willis, running back Brandon Jackson, defensive lineman Josh Smith and defensive back Levin Neal, who transferred from N.C. State.

Defensive lineman Allen Crowder is currently suspended. Kicker Ben Hartman is being evaluated for a recurring hip ailment and is not being counted on to be available for the outset of the upcoming campaign. Transfer Giavanni Ruffin, a running back, is not taking part in camp at this point. Holtz said he is still working to have his eligibility approved by the NCAA clearinghouse.

Kass to tight end

Rob Kass, who won the starting quarterback job prior to the 2007 season, will get a look at tight end in preseason camp.

"We are moving Rob there full time to give him a chance to earn a spot on the two-deep depth chart and earn a role on this football team," Holtz said. "As a senior, he is unselfish and wants to make this move. He was the one who approached me about it. He just wants to step on the field and help this senior class and this program by making a difference in wins and losses on the field."

Kass could still possibly back up Patrick Pinkney at quarterback, if needed, although redshirt freshman Josh Jordan and true freshman Rio Johnson will get the first looks there.

Sophomore Cliff Perryman is moving from linebacker to defensive end, where projected starters C.J. Wilson and Scotty Robinson are both seniors.

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08/09/2009 02:19:48 AM


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