Insights and Observations
Thursday, May 27, 2004
By Henry Hinton
Broadcaster & Owner
of Greenville Cable 7
No clear target on AD radar
When incoming East Carolina chancellor Steve Ballard
announced last week he would slow down the process of hiring an athletic
director, he really must have meant SLOW it down.
The ECU Board of Trustees is meeting in Raleigh today
for its annual retreat to discuss issues facing the university in the
upcoming school year. Many speculated that Ballard would bring his
recommendation for the top job in athletics to that meeting.
According to inside sources late Thursday, that will
not happen. After reportedly nearly pulling the trigger two weeks ago on
Oklahoma associate AD Rick Hart, Ballard began to get an earful from Pirates
The search has dragged on for so long that clear lines
have been drawn with various constituencies. The search committee sent three
names to Ballard several weeks ago. They were reportedly interim AD Nick
Floyd, South Carolina associate AD Jeff Barber and former Air Force AD
The Hart rumor surfaced two weeks ago and stunned many
around the program, including some on the search committee who had
interviewed him but not passed his name on for final consideration.
Since that time it appears Ballard has been inundated
with contacts including phone messages and e-mails from people lobbying for
their particular choices.
Barber was back in Greenville last weekend and had
dinner with Ballard on Saturday night, an apparent attempt to see if there
might be chemistry that had not provoked a positive spark after their first
Barber, an ECU alumnus who worked in the Pirate Club
before moving into the administration at USC, has a vocal contingent of
backers. Some members of the search committee have adamantly encouraged
Ballard to take a second look at the Greenville native.
There have been others who think that Ballard should
allow Nick Floyd to continue in the job for a year allowing the new
chancellor a chance to get his feet on the ground before making a final
Floyd, apparently frustrated by the Hart rumors two
weeks ago, pulled his name out of consideration. He has not officially
re-entered the sweepstakes even after Ballard issued a statement saying he
would wait a few more weeks before making the call. Floyd is still
considered a possibility but is rumored to be putting irons in the fire on
other jobs at this point.
Spetman’s name is rarely mentioned when talking to
people close to the action. And Rick Hart? Who knows? It seems unlikely that
he will get the nod after the outpouring of emotion Ballard heard from
people who think Hart’s age, 31, and lack of hiring and firing experience
should disqualify him.
Late Thursday afternoon, word came that Ballard has
decided to delay the decision again. It is likely that the barrage of
lobbying from all angles has him confused at this point. Sources say that
Ballard told members of the Board of Trustees that he is still not
comfortable with making a decision until he is officially on campus next
week and has a better feel for the issues.
Conventional wisdom would tell us at this point that
Ballard has still not been able to cozy up to any of the candidates. There
is even some speculation that he may totally re-open the search.
That news has started a grassroots effort in Greenville
to try and convince Ballard that Jeff Barber should be the hire. A petition
has even been started by some who want the new boss man to know that Barber
has strong support in the community.
Since Ballard has heard a snoot full from everyone by
now, it is unlikely that anything like that will be successful. He has
already been heavily lobbied by very influential folks inside and outside
the program and has yet to blink.
It appears that Ballard is his own man and has decided
that making a decision with which he is totally comfortable is more
important than a timetable being imposed by others who want him to make a
But wait. This one has been full of surprises. Anything
can still happen.
Swirl of politics hovers over CV Center
Efforts to get the General Assembly to fund the ECU
Cardiovascular Center in the current short legislature session continue in
As we have reported, the Senate has already passed a
bill and sent it on to the House of Representatives. That particular bill
only funds the ECU project and the UNC-Chapel Hill Cancer Center.
Co-Speaker of the House Jim Black has said from the
beginning he will support the ECU effort but it must be part of a larger
package that includes funding for projects in other parts of the state.
Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight seems to have
drawn a line in the sand again in recent days, indicating the House should
just ratify the Senate bill which would fund the two facilities with
traditional Certificate of Participation funding. Black has been working on
a new type of financing plan called a Real Estate Bond Investment Trust, an
innovative but never-before-used funding scheme.
Gauntlet ahead for matters of the
Don’t light the victory cigar yet
but this week's votes in the North
Carolina Senate in favor of East
Carolina’s Cardiovascular Institute
put the project on the front burner
for this session of the legislature...
Basnight has garnered some support for his point of
view apparently. Black was reportedly angered by an editorial in the
Greenville Daily Reflector on Tuesday which accused him of jeopardizing the
bill with a “swollen list of projects and his oddball financing.”
Black has consistently said he would support ECU and
Chapel Hill as long as other projects were included. He has asked university
and community advocates from Greenville to be patient with him as he works
through the issues surrounding this funding request. He is clearly dealing
with a lot of issues Basnight does not face in the Senate.
Complicating the matter is Co-Speaker Richard Morgan’s
problems in his own Republican party. Morgan was just jettisoned from the
North Carolina Republican Party Executive Committee last weekend for being
disloyal to his party. Many interpret that to mean they want Morgan to stop
cooperating with Black, particular on funding issues. The timing could not
The Daily Reflector editorial also seems ill-timed.
Informed insiders know that Black has been saying from the beginning that
the heart center’s best shot will come once a House bill has been passed and
then a conference committee has been formed to negotiate a settlement that
both chambers will accept.
The task ahead in the House is difficult enough.
Angering Black now could well make him throw up his hands and say, “OK, the
heck with it, then.”
The Blame Game cost ECU a chance for funding on this
project in 2003. Finger pointing does not seem to be productive at this
The entire university and community should give Black
the chance to work through his issues in the House, as he has asked, and
make good on his commitment to help ECU get its Cardiovascular Diseases
Institute this time around.
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02/23/2007 10:13:36 AM