New leadership, new vision

by Eric Gilmore

The purple fever is slowly dying. The virus accompanied by its cheesy television commercial is getting kicked aside by a brand new slogan: new leadership, new vision.

After sailing adrift for too long, Chancellor Steve Ballard has attempted to right the ship to calmer waters. Terry Holland has come in and turned the athletic program upside down with major administrative changes.

The choices of few affect everyone in a trickle down system. Executive Director of the Pirate Club Dennis Young has tried to raise money despite two major coaches that have yet to prove results. The Pirate Club staff, on the third floor of the Ward Sports Medicine Building work their tails off to make their contributors happy.

Consider that fact that the number of Pirate Club members jumped from 7,576 in 2002 during a 4-8 campaign to 8,511 in 2003. The hiring of John Thompson spearheaded the significant increase. After experiencing a 1-11 season, the numbers only dropped to 8,132 members.

Even though numbers have gone up, the money is not being used in the same manner. Instead of improving facilities, Holland has to pay previous coaches. Almost $1.5 million will be contributed into the pockets of fired coaches.

Outside of the baseball stadium, what facility upgrades have we done in the last five years? Not blaming the Pirate Club or fans, but has N.C. State not almost completely overhauled their stadium? Fans can complain about the BCS and it not being fair (legitimately), but who does the blame really fall on? Pure and simple, it's the Pirate fans.

Often, one has to take a step backwards in order to put their best foot forward. In a win-now world, Skip Holtz will take at least three years to truly be able to recruit his types of players into his system. The problem Holtz is faced with is that most of the players in four years will be redshirt sophomores or undersized juniors. It takes years to honestly build a program.

In basketball nowadays, coaches must make inroads on potential recruit's through AAU teams in the tenth grade or younger. In four years, those players will only have completed their freshmen year.

Baseball should enjoy success the fastest. Making the jump towards being a nationally elite program last year, this year's team has been unable to sustain it. With so much turnover and injuries on this year's squad, head coach Randy Mazey is tinkering with an entire new team.

This year's recruiting class for baseball was unlike any other this campus has seen. The problem now is that ECU is fighting for recruits that are likely to be drafted. In baseball and especially when high school players see money, nothing is for certain.

It's on every Pirate fan to hold ECU athletics accountable yet have patience and faith in the new leadership. The start of the beginning will finally be displayed this weekend to the public when the gridiron Pirates hold the Purple-Gold Game on April 16.

Eric Gilmore