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ECU News, Notes and Commentary

The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, October 12, 2005

By Bethany Bradsher

Shakeup thrusts willing new leader out front

AD Holland has no shortage of confidence in Billy Godwin


Brody Taylor wasn’t sure what he and his teammates had done wrong, but he figured it must have been something pretty bad.

Just the day before, the East Carolina baseball squad had played a 100-inning charity baseball game for Hurricane Katrina victims. But Monday, with practice cancelled and an emergency team meeting called, had a completely different feel.

“It was a shock to us all,” Taylor said. “We thought we might have gotten in trouble or something. But it was hard on a lot of us.“

Instead of being reprimanded, Taylor and the other Diamond Bucs were among the first to know what the rest of the Pirate Nation learned that evening — that Randy Mazey’s tenure as the ECU head baseball coach ended with that charity event.

Athletic director Terry Holland completed his version of fruit-basket turnover with an announcement that surprised observers with its timing but not with its result. When Billy Godwin was introduced as the acting head coach on Tuesday morning, baseball became the last of the ECU’s principal revenue sports to get a new leader in just 10 months.


   interview with
   Billy Godwin
   by Brian Bailey


Holland, who took no questions during Tuesday’s press conference but fielded some media questions afterwards, was tight-lipped about the reasons for the move, but the departure of popular assistant coaches Allen Osborne and Tommy Eason last spring and reported frustration from Pirates players have created a volatile environment around the baseball offices lately.

“We’re going to continue to go down that road where you’re going to ask me things that I’m forced to say ‘no comment’ on,” Holland said in response to media questions. “I’m trying to do the best I can to let you do your jobs, but I don’t want to say ‘no comment’ over and over when you know the answer.”

One thing Holland did elaborate on was his confidence in Godwin, the 41-year-old former Louisburg College head coach who came to ECU in June to replace Osborne as the Pirates’ hitting coach. When Eason and Osborne both left shortly after the Pirates’ trip to the NCAA Regionals, Holland and associate athletic director Nick Floyd took a heightened interest in the search for the final assistant’s spot.

“There was no question in our minds at that time that this was someone who could really help us and help our program,” Holland said. “I don’t think any of us could have anticipated how important that hire was going to end up being. I can’t tell you how comfortable I am at this time of turning the reins over to this gentleman. He will absolutely build a program that is built on trust and mutual respect that all of us can be proud of.”

Godwin spent six years at the helm at Louisburg, compiling a 262-85 record. He earned the 2005 Region X Coach of the Year honor and in 2002 was named North Carolina College Coach of the Year after leading the Hurricanes to the JUCO World Series.

A Rocky Mount native who played baseball for Atlantic Christian (now Barton) College in Wilson, Godwin has also served as an assistant at N.C. Wesleyan College and as head coach at two private high schools, Enfield Academy in Rocky Mount and Cary Academy in Cary.

At the press conference, Godwin described the whirlwind he has experienced since accepting the interim coach’s position on Monday. His first priority was to meet with the players, he said, and despite their surprise at the dramatic turn of events, he was reassured by the support they showed their new leader.

“My ultimate concern is with the 31 young men we have in our program,” he said. “The first goal, and I think we’ve accomplished that, is to get these guys to believe in me. I think a lot of coaches demand respect because of their title. Since I’ve been here, I’ve worked hard to earn their trust and to earn their respect. I think it’s a day-to-day process.”

Godwin’s next crucial task is to contact each of the 10 recruits who have made pledges to ECU, he said. The baseball signing period ends on Nov. 1.

“We’ve had 10 commitments, which we think is an outstanding recruiting class for us, and our goal is to maintain that entire class,” he said.

Taylor, who pitched for Godwin’s team at Louisburg before signing with ECU, will try to be a team leader during his senior season and help Godwin as he tries to push this Pirates team toward its ultimate goal.

“He said that he wants our help to keep this thing going where we’re supposed to be headed, and that’s Omaha,” Taylor said.

Junior Dustin Sasser, who missed the 2005 season due to injury, said the consensus on the team is that the changes at the top shouldn’t be a distraction for the players.

“Yesterday was yesterday, and it’s now best for the program and everybody else that we move on and do what we know we can do,” Sasser said.

Godwin, who noted he has talked to Mazey a few times since the decision was made, wanted to dwell on solutions rather than problems, he said, with the knowledge that he has at least one season to build on the accomplishments that have come to define Pirate baseball.

“I take great pride in following the outstanding men who have served here before me, and the players who have served in this program also,” he said. “The tradition they worked so hard to build is what I will work tirelessly to protect.”

According to an ECU news release, the search for a permanent head coach will begin at the end of the 2006 season. Godwin said that he would do everything he could to keep the job he inherited so suddenly.

“Every job that I’ve taken, my goal was not to see where I was going but to work as hard as I could and let the chips fall where they may,” he said. “I’m the acting head coach, and I think if I do a good job I’ll get an opportunity. I think Coach Holland will take my resume.”

Mazey’s departure brings the number of former coaches on the East Carolina athletic department payroll to four, since the university is still paying out the contracts of former football coaches Steve Logan and John Thompson and former basketball coach Bill Herrion. Mazey signed a five-year contract, through 2008, when he came to ECU in 2002.

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02/23/2007 01:11:47 AM

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