ARTICLE OF THE DAY

Making Tough Decisions
by Brian North
10/12/05


Terry Holland has been the athletics director at East Carolina for just over one year, but he has already made wholesale changes to the three main revenue sports football, basketball and baseball. So much for easing into the job.

The former University of Virginia basketball coach is leading a fast break of change. Like a good point guard, he is having to make tough decisions to try and keep everyone happy, yet not commit a violation, and ultimately win the game. He is being paid well to do so ($282,000 a year), and he is not backing down from the challenge.

With change, there are going to be critics who voice their opinion. It's a job hazard. I, for one, thought Bill Herrion deserved another year as the Pirates basketball coach. Was it a good decision? Only time will tell. No leader should be followed blindly, all authority should be questioned to make sure they are not abusing their power. It's what made our country great.

I don't think Terry Holland is power hungry or a poor leader. Quite the contrary. I think he is a man of integrity. Holland appears organized and seems to understand what makes people tick. He treats people with respect (although some of the coaches who have been dismissed would probably beg to differ). He shakes your hand firmly and looks you square in the eye when he talks to you. He always smiles and seems sincere, and I can't find a police record anywhere.

I think he expects the same of the coaches who work for him. When he sees  something he doesn't like, he isn't afraid to make a change, even if they are running a winning program like Randy Mazey was doing with the baseball team. I don't know why a change was made, but I am guessing it was a series of straws that broke the camel's back. It's been well documented that two assistant coaches left amid turmoil, and a couple of players transferred. I am confident Holland had a sufficient reason for Mazey's dismissal, but I would feel better if it was made public. But part of Holland's philosophy is not to air dirty laundry for fear of causing a division among the Pirate fans.

I have dealt with many athletics directors in my 15 years in television.  Many hide when it's time to talk about the tough subjects. Terry Holland has not been one of those. He may not answer all the questions right away (he waited two weeks for the football season before addressing the firing of John Thompson), but he was visible and would talk off the record.

Not everything turns to gold with Terry's touch. I am sure he would like to have another crack at a national championship with those Ralph Sampson led teams. But he made the right decisions to run a very successful program for 21 years, averaging 20 wins a season. It's consistency that is the sign of great leaders, and Holland has been consistent in making change. Now we have to wait and see if these changes work out. But Pirate fans should be confident based on Holland's track record.

Brian North
bnorth@wcti12.com