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Read Henry Hinton's feature story on veteran Hollywood actress and ECU alum Beth Grant in Bonesville Magazine.

Henry's Highlights
Thursday, September 30, 2004

By Henry Hinton

Why no Dye?


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Bonesville Magazine

• PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact

• Recruit Profiles
• Rookie Books
• Tracking the Classes
• Florida Pipeline
• NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again


• STEVE BALLARD: New Leader Takes Charge

• SCOTT COWEN: Busting Down the Door

• KEITH LECLAIR on ECU's Field of Dreams

• BETH GRANT: Actress Still a Pirate

Another East Carolina Hall of Fame weekend has come and gone. It was great to see Robert Jones and Gary Overton get inducted but when will Pat Dye make it?

Some folks around Greenville, particularly many of Dye’s former players, get fighting mad when the subject comes up. [Editor's note: Read the thoughts of one of Dye's star running backs at ECU, Eddie Hicks, in Ron Cherubini's most recent Pirate Time Machine feature.]

There has been speculation for many years about why the former Pirate football coach (1974-79) has been ‘unwelcome’ in the hall.

For years there were rumors that former administrators in the athletics department kept Dye from making the cut. Former ECU Director of Athletics Mike Hamrick repeatedly said to close acquaintances that he had nothing against Dye’s admission into the hall of fame.

There were also rumors that circulated for years that Henry VanSant, a former Pirate player, coach and administrator, had a problem with Dye’s induction. Both Hamrick and VanSant are long gone from ECU and still no Dye on Hall of Fame Weekend.

Why? This man is a college football legend that compiled the highest winning percentage of any Pirate coach of the modern era, putting together a record of 48-18-1.

One of Dye’s staunchest supporters has been former ECU quarterback Mike Weaver, who has made his coach’s induction to the hall somewhat of a public crusade in recent years.

For those of us who were around for the Dye years, there are some great memories. After all, this was Leo Jenkins’ and Clarence Stasavich's choice to take ECU into the football bigtime. Arguably, Dye accomplished just that.

While ECU was still competing in the Southern Conference in those days, the Pat Dye teams dominated that league. There were also some huge out of conference victories as well.

The rub does not seem to be the way Dye conducted himself or the program while he was coaching here. Although Dye’s demeanor could be quite pointed and seemingly dictatorial, it was the way he exited Greenville that seems to have sealed his fate with those who keep a watchful eye on the Hall of Fame.

Near the end of his tenure, Dye made it clear that he felt ECU had not done enough to keep him happy.

There was a behind the scenes effort to overthrow then Athletics Director Bill Cain by many of Dye’s closest friends.

It was believed that Dye would stay in Greenville with a hefty raise and the top job in the department. To this day, supporters of Cain still believe Dye was behind that attempted coup.

When it became clear that Dye would not become the AD at ECU, there was an effort for him to be hired at N.C. State. The East Carolina Board of Trustees protested the Wolfpack 'recruiting' foray and soon UNC System President Bill Friday issued a decree that said one school inside the state university system could not recruit away the coach of a sister institution.

With all the hard feelings created by that succession of activity, Dye soon found himself in a bit of a bind.

In the current edition of Bonesville Magazine, Dye tells feature writer Ron Cherubini that the final straw was a decision before the 1979 season by then-chancellor Thomas Brewer to overrule Dye and allow a reserve quarterback indoctrinated in the Pirates' offense to transfer to Duke, which happened to be among ECU's September opponents that season.

Dye figured the transfer ran the Blue Devils' scout team that fall. Duke won the game 28-14 and for Dye — who said he had concluded that Brewer was no Leo Jenkins — the insult was too much to take.

Having taken his shot in Greenville and missed and having been barred from Raleigh, he was relegated to the head coaching job at Wyoming for a year before moving on to become an SEC icon as head coach at Auburn.

All of that is ancient history and there is little argument that Dye did more to move the Pirate program forward than many already in the Hall of Fame.

So who is keeping him out?

It is a question no one seems to be able to answer these days, but the fact remains that one of the top names in ECU football history is still being shunned.

It is time to let bygones be bygones and put Pat Dye into the Hall of Fame at ECU. What may have been a quite controversial decision years ago now seems like a fitting tribute to one of the biggest stars in the Pirate universe.


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02/23/2007 10:14:01 AM

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