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Nelson out after workout infractions

From Staff and ECU Reports
All Rights Reserved.

Mark Nelson will resign from his position as East Carolina's defensive ends and special teams coach less than six months after joining the staff of first-year head coach Ruffin McNeill.

Word came from ECU Tuesday night that Nelson's departure comes with McNeill's concurrence in the wake of an in-house investigation into possible breaches of NCAA rules barring coaches from watching voluntary summer workouts by players.

"I notified Coach McNeill late this afternoon that our compliance office had been investigating concerns about violations of NCAA rules involving out-of-season practice — specifically a coach evaluating players during normal summer activities that were supposed to be strictly voluntary," ECU athletic director Holland stated in a press release. "When a coach observes these normal activities, the NCAA considers the activities to be non-sanctioned out-of-season practice.

"Coach McNeill called the coach in and they discussed these possible violations. That coach, Mark Nelson, admitted to violations which are likely to be secondary violations when a formal report is filed with the NCAA.

"Coach Nelson and Coach McNeill agreed that these violations would be a distraction to the team at this critical time of the year and Coach Nelson offered to step down from his position. His offer to step down was accepted by Coach McNeill pending negotiation of a severance agreement with the athletic administration and the university."

East Carolina will voluntarily notify the sport's governing body of the infractions.

"The ECU Compliance Office will file a formal report of the violations and cooperate fully with the NCAA," stated Holland.

A veteran of 23 years in coaching, Nelson has served stints with teams in the Canadian Football League, Southeastern Conference, Big 12, Big East and Conference USA. Before his arrival at ECU, Nelson was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL.

McNeill expressed his disappointment that the violations occurred and vowed that the ECU football program will adhere rigidly to NCAA rules.

"This is certainly an unfortunate development, but integrity will be the foundation of our program," McNeill stated in the release. "We are going to comply with the spirit and letter of NCAA rules at East Carolina. I expect my players to do the right thing, and as leaders, ... I demand my coaches to do the same. As head football coach, failure to comply with NCAA rules will not be tolerated."

McNeill indicated he will begin an immediate search for Nelson's replacement and may consider a staff reorganization depending on the available candidates.

The Pirates' preseason camp will begin August 5. Their opener with Tulsa in an expanded and renovated Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium will be on Sunday, Sept. 5.

09/04/2010 02:01 AM


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