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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports


From the Anchor Desk
Friday, June 21, 2002
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9


LeClair's advice deserves high priority


Wednesday was a sad day at East Carolina University.

Keith LeClair, who came to East Carolina five years ago with goals that many felt were unachievable, resigned his position because of his failing health.

But donít think for one minute that Coach LeClair is giving up on himself or on the objectives he has laid out for Pirate baseball.

Heís not!

LeClair knows what is best for this program, and whatís best at this juncture is for ECU to move in the right direction ó and LeClair should be given every opportunity to help decide that crucial next step.

This is not an easy time in the East Carolina athletic department. There are those, like myself, who would like to see Mike Hamrick name Kevin McMullan as Keith LeClairís successor.

If thatís what LeClair wants, then I think thatís the way it should be.

At the very least, LeClair should be a one-man search committee for Hamrick and Chancellor Bill Muse. LeClairís vote should carry the most weight, especially if this is a national search for a new coach.

Hamrick deserves ample credit for hiring Keith LeClair five years ago. There were candidates that many Pirate Club members and alumni wanted. Billy Best, then an assistant at North Carolina State, was considered the front-runner, and there were those who were upset that someone in the Pirate family didnít land the job.

Best had worked under Gary Overton and was an ECU graduate. But Hamrick found his man in LeClair.

How ironic is that? Now Keith LeClair is a huge part of that same Pirate family.

I like Kevin McMullan. I think that the job he did, guiding this team to a first-ever Conference USA championship, was tremendous. Just think about the players that the Pirates lost after the 2001 season.

Coach Mac should be the leading candidate, especially since he has gotten the endorsement from Coach LeClair.

According to a source close to the athletic department, Coach LeClair had asked East Carolina athletic director to make McMullan an associate head coach before the season. That source says that Hamrick declined.

Hamrick has met with McMullan on at least two occasions since the end of the season. I believe McMullan wants the head-coaching job, but he also may be looking for work elsewhere if the vibes he is getting arenít all that positive from the Pirate athletic director.

This is a situation that needs to be resolved quickly. This is a very important time for recruiting in baseball. The State Games of North Carolina are coming up, an event which will feature some of the top talent in the state.

There are other names that have surfaced, but as is the case with every coaching search, the names are just possible candidates. Todd Raleigh was at East Carolina in 1999 under LeClair, and is now at Western Carolina. Elonís Mike Kennedy and Coastal Carolinaís Gary Gilmore are also highly regarded, and could emerge as candidates.

At the very least, LeClair should be consulted and his knowledge should be used by the powers at ECU in naming a new coach. LeClair is the bravest of warriors, the classiest of men, the kind of person that we all wish that we could be.

Heís earned the honor of guiding the program in the direction that HE wants it to go.

LeClairís goal is to get this team to Omaha. His stamp should be on this program for many years to come.

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02/23/2007 01:22:34 AM

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