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Pirate Notebook No. 184
Tuesday, March 23, 2004

By Denny O'Brien
Staff Writer and Columnist

ECU Hall deserves new home


East Carolina could learn a thing or two from Duke. Not only have the Blue Devils established the nation's top basketball program, they also have discovered a way to preserve it.

It's called a Hall of Fame. And what better location for it than Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Sure, ECU has one. The problem is, it literally is a hall. A short one, too.

If you just so happen to accidentally wander into Ward Sports Medicine Building on game day — that is, if you can barrel over security and plunge through the glass doors — you just might stumble across it. That's assuming you also left enough in the tank for the one-flight climb up the hidden staircase.

But what are the chances of that?

Fat. We're not talking p-h-a-t phat, either.

Fans have no such trouble at Duke. You'll no sooner find steel bars in front of its temple of tradition than you will an oil painting of former North Carolina coach Dean Smith. OK, a bust of his nose with a clever inscription, maybe.

Dean's truck-sized sniffer aside, you can't help but admire what Duke has built. Not so much the accomplishments — of which there are many — but the fact that its administration and wealthy donors are so grounded in the Blue Devils' history that they would erect a shrine to properly showcase it.

From a pair of Thomas Hill's sweaty sneakers to national title hardware, just about everything significant to Duke athletics has been carefully preserved for public display. There's your proof that intelligent life does exist in New Jersey.

Duke's not alone. Louisville one-upped the Dookies with the Johnny Unitas Center, the Cardinals' sanctuary of gridiron history that overlooks Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. For a school that lacks longstanding football tradition, the U of L sure puts up a heck of a facade.

With ECU, it's just the opposite. The Pirates live and breathe by the unpredictable bounce of the pigskin, but you wouldn't know it by touring their facilities. Sure, there once was signage in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium of East Carolina's many bowl appearances, but one of the fences on which the painted plastic hung was demolished so high rollers could dine in decadence prior to kickoff.

This from a school which prides itself on a blue collar image.


If that truly were the case, East Carolina would have designated one of the Murphy Center banquet rooms as a one-stop shop for Pirate Pride, so that the Everyfan could enjoy the new palace of sweat. In it, plaques for every hall-of-famer enshrined could hang, not to mention each postseason trophy the Pirates looted during their voyage into big-time athletics.

The 1991 and 1999 teams certainly have earned a special section of their own. Regardless of where the Pirates journey next, both clubs will be remembered for their benchmark years in which the school and community showed that with hope and a strong belief in one another, the highest levels of success are obtainable at East Carolina, regardless of the odds.

There also should be a corner created for courageous captains whose accomplishments in purple and gold are unmatched. Carlester Crumpler, Jeff Blake, and David Garrard immediately come to mind, and why their jersey numbers still are being worn is puzzling to say the least.

Each authored key chapters in Pirate lore and deserve their due recognition as a staple in ECU's athletics history. However, those unable to witness their playing days must rely primarily on the stories of tenured fans.

Talk about the Middle Ages.

A walk through the Pirates' Hall of Heroes should become as much a part of fall Saturdays as a stop at Parker's or UBE. That goes without mentioning the potential impact on recruiting and the lasting impression it could have on visiting blue-chippers.

In its catchy new motto, East Carolina is a school clearly focused on combining the present and future. Perhaps there is a little room in that statement to honor the past.

AD search over?

Now that East Carolina has named Steven Ballard as its new chancellor, the Pirates are one step closer to selecting a new athletics director.


Maybe not.

Though the search committee was believed to have narrowed its list to South Carolina associate AD Jeff Barber and ECU interim AD Nick Floyd, the selection of Ballard as the school's CEO could put a delay on the hiring process.

Ballard was not a part of the screening process, and he may not rely solely on the recommendation of the AD search committee. If that's the case, the new chancellor could reopen the search, which could mean months before ECU names its new AD — and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

In retrospect, interim chancellor Bill Shelton, who was passed over by UNC system president Molly Broad, was heavily involved in the search. The question now is whether Ballard will abide by the wishes of the committee and make a selection from its final two.

At this point, your guess is as good as mine.

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02/23/2007 01:56:25 AM

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