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Skipper stands down from wheel of ship aimed for Omaha

( — In an acknowledgment of the toll Lou Gehrig's disease is taking on his body, the man who injected the work "Omaha" into the everyday vernacular that surrounds East Carolina's baseball program has stepped down as head coach.
Keith LeClair, whose driven five-year tenure elevated the program's sights from conference championships and NCAA regional berths to a bigger destination — the College World Series — will continue to play a role in shaping the future of Pirate baseball as a special assistant to athletic director Mike Hamrick.

Read the official ECU press release below.

LeClair steps down as Pirates' head coach,
assumes special duties with ECU athletics

From ECU Media Relations

GREENVILLE — East Carolina University head baseball coach Keith LeClair announced Wednesday he was relinquishing his coaching duties, effective immediately.

LeClair, who cited health concerns for his decision, will remain with the ECU athletics department as a special assistant to Director of Athletics Mike Hamrick.

"I feel at this time it is in the best interest of the program for me to make this move," LeClair stated. "I have been blessed for the past five years to serve as head coach at ECU. I am proud of the young men I have coached and the strides we have made."

In five seasons at ECU, LeClair, 36, is the second-winningest baseball coach in school history with a 212-96-1 record. He has led the Pirates to four consecutive NCAA Regional appearances, three Colonial Athletic Association championships, and one Conference USA Tournament Championship.

The 2001 Pirates advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals and finished with a No. 11 national ranking. This past season's team went 43-20-1, was ranked in the top 25 for much of the year, swept through the conference tournament, and won two games at the Clemson Regional.

LeClair won the American Baseball Coaches Association's East Region Coach-of-the-Year award in both 1999 and 2001.

In addition to steering the program to success on the field, LeClair has been integral in the push for the building of a new, state-of-the-art baseball stadium on the ECU campus. Fundraising efforts for that project have been ongoing for nearly one year.

"I thank the administration for their support and, most of all, the best fans in the country," LeClair said. "I hope the quest for Omaha will go on and the stadium will be built soon. I also want to thank my coaches for the efforts they have made."

Hamrick stated that the search for a new head baseball coach will begin immediately.

"Keith LeClair has done a magnificent job with our program and has taken us to levels we have never seen before," Hamrick said. "We are extremely appreciative of Keith, and he and his family have our full support during this difficult time. I am looking forward to working with him in an administrative role."

LeClair arrived at East Carolina in the summer of 1997 after six seasons at the helm of his alma mater, Western Carolina University. At Western, he compiled a 229-135-2 record while winning four Southern Conference championships and advancing to NCAA Regional play four times.

As a player at Western Carolina under current Clemson head coach Jack Leggett, LeClair was an All-Southern Conference selection in 1988 and was named the '88 Southern Conference Tournament MVP. He established WCU records for hits and total bases in a season. He will be inducted into WCU's Athletics Hall of Fame this autumn.

As a player, assistant coach, and head coach, LeClair has been a part of 13 NCAA Tournament teams. He has won five conference coach-of-the-year awards.

His teams' play has significantly boosted home attendance at East Carolina. The Pirates averaged 283 fans at home games in LeClair's first season in 1998. This past year, ECU averaged a record 1,766 fans in attendance.


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