09/09/04 — Terry Holland gives ECU national credibility

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Terry Holland gives ECU national credibility

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 9, 2004 1:58 PM

GREENVILLE -- A new era in East Carolina University began Wednesday morning and with it came the first episode in improving the school's academic and athletic standards.

Terry Holland, a figurehead nationally in nearly every aspect associated with the NCAA, officially took the spotlight as ECU's new athletics director. A 63-year-old native of Clinton, the outspoken Holland left his position as assistant to the president at the University of Virginia last week.

Tongue in cheek, Holland admitted he hadn't taken too many glances toward Greenville when traveling south on the interstate. The small community, which naturally starves for attention in the Division I ranks these days, held little interest.

Holland has changed his attitude.

"What you folks have done here in the Greenville community and East Carolina University is something special. You should be proud of it," Holland told a standing-room-only crowd at the Murphy Center. "I'm embarrassed. I've been up-and-down Interstate 95 for years and I didn't know what was happening here.

"I should have been able to hear a humming noise as hard as you folks have been working. This is a great university that is probably one of the best-kept secrets on the east coast."

Holland signed a five-year contract, reportedly worth $276,000 for the first full year. Pay increases, based on his job performance, are built into the contract. Holland assumes the athletics directors duties on Oct. 1.

Nick Floyd served as interim athletics director when Mike Hamrick resigned last August and played a significant role in keeping the athletics program intact. Floyd signed a new five-year contract to remain at ECU and his continued leadership should help assure the strength and vigor of the Pirates' athletic programs.

"Terry is a proven program builder who has been successful throughout his career as coach and athletics director," said ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard. "He has great integrity and the ability to inspire others. His credentials are impeccable, and I have no doubt that he will make a difference at ECU."

Holland helped Davidson regain its Southern Conference membership and avoid moving to Division III. The school added four new athletic teams and hosted three NCAA men's soccer championships.

While at Virginia, Holland coached men's basketball for nearly two decades and posted 326 victories. He served as the school's athletics director from 1995 to 2001 and organized a fund drive for the $130 million John Paul Jones Arena, which will house the men's and women's basketball programs. The facility should be completed sometime in 2007.

Holland began and put the finishing touches on an $86 million renovation to Scott Stadium. During his two-decade-plus association with the university, the school's athletics program established itself as a consistent top-15 finisher in the Sears Cup competition, which recognizes overall excellence in athletics.

Although his credentials speak volumes about his expansion plans at Davidson and UVa, Holland doesn't consider East Carolina a rebuilding project. He says the university has been distracted by the latest conference realignments that have disadvantaged Pirates athletics.

"The problems that East Carolina must overcome to restore this tradition exist, to some degree, in every athletics program in the country," said Holland. "Our immediate goal will be to join with the university to provide a first-class academic and athletic environment so that every student athlete from eastern North Carolina will find that they do not have to leave the area in order to succeed at the highest levels academically and athletically."

However, the widespread travel in Conference USA concerns Holland. He plans to set performance benchmarks for every endeavor that affects the school's ability to field competitive teams. He also expects to the coaches to schedule carefully, minimizing missed class time and allowing the athletes to participate fully in all campus activities.

Holland plans no structural changes and hopes to further boost an athletics program that is just starting to flourish on the CUSA scene. The men's and women's basketball teams are improving under Bill Herrion and Sharon Baldwin-Tener, respectively. Pirate baseball achieved the school's highest-ever national ranking last spring. Several non-revenue sports -- particularly softball, cross country, women's soccer and track and field -- are starting to grab national attention.

Second-year football coach John Thompson served on the search committee task force, which eventually refined its search for a new athletics director. Thompson considers Holland the missing piece to completing the school's athletic puzzle.

"I don't think we could have done any better, in any regard," Thompson said. "He's got the wisdom ... been there, done that ... and has a passion. He understands coaching, understands administration and for me, personally, I couldn't be any happier."

When introduced, Holland donned a white ECU cap with purple letters outlined in gold stitching. He received a standing ovation and drew cheers from a large cluster of Pirate Club members in attendance.

A few people called the announcement "a high-water mark" in Pirate athletics. Others just shook their heads, wondering how they managed to lure one of the most-recognized faces in college athletics back home to eastern North Carolina.

"My earlier experiences convince me that East Carolina is ideally positioned to restore a long and proud athletic history," said Holland, who is a member of the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame. "The goals are achievable, the spirit and pride are in place, and the future is ours to determine."