Q and A with Terry Holland

by Eric Gilmore

Athletic director Terry Holland took time out of his busy schedule to respond to my questions. Holland answers candidly about student fee increases, facility upgrades and the recent discontinuation of the soccer program. Below is the full transcript of the interview.


EG: Skip Holtz just began the second year of his five-year contract. With media appearances, his guaranteed salary this year was approximately $390,000. Comparatively, Al Groh, the coach whom you hired at Virginia now has a guaranteed salary of $1.7 million. After going 5-6 this year, is there a possibility of increasing Holtz’s pay or extending his contract?


TH: Coach Holtz and his staff have done a marvelous job of restoring the Pirate pride and spirit and we hope to keep them all under contract for as long as possible.


EG: According to Holtz, his team and this program are “still a work in progress.” But the media and fans seemed to label the 2005 season a success. Judging from your vantage point, was this season successful?


TH: More important than the won-loss record or the result of any particular game is the fact that this staff and team members built a “foundation” that can support a championship program.


EG: With the increase in overall scheduling for 2006, what indicators will make next year successful? What are your expectations?


TH: The only goal is to put a team on the field that has an equal chance to win against any competition on any given Saturday. As long as we are progressing toward that goal, the won-loss record or individual game results will eventually take care of themselves.


EG: The SGA senate recently voted to support the athletic department’s $50 increase in student fees. The $436 fee pumps over $10 million directly into the athletic budget. Is it fair for students to fund approximately half of the athletic budget?


TH: The ECU student fees are comparable to those at other institutions.  So, I guess the correct way to look at it is that the students are doing their part – is everyone else doing their part?


EG: In recent interviews, you’ve mentioned expanding Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. You’ve spoken of a six-story building that would encompass football offices and more luxury suites. How much would this structure cost and when do you expect it to be completed?


TH: I have clearly said that is my vision but that it is the vision of someone who does not know what they are talking about. The Circle of Excellence campaign includes funding for hiring someone who can tell us what can be done and how much it will likely cost.


EG: Other facility upgrades that have been rumored are a new ticket office, a new pirate club building, a supplemental basketball gymnasium, a new press box, an improved track facility and horseshoeing the football stadium. Which upgrades are the most imminent and which ones will be completed within the next decade?


TH: I would guess that a stadium upgrade would come first and that anything that can be included into that project will be done in that same time frame.


EG: Your expertise is in undoubtedly is in basketball. You’ve experienced 418 wins in 21 years at both Davidson and Virginia. While you’ve enjoyed success, ECU never really has. How much tougher is the building the basketball program compared to football and baseball?


TH: It is harder simply because it has never been done so there is no tradition to point to that helps people believe we can do it. So we have hired coaches who have been part of building championship programs to provide that credibility – but they can not do it without a lot of help from all Pirate fans.


EG: Ricky Stokes and his team have stated their goal is to have a winning season. Similar to the football question, what are your expectations for the basketball program- both this season and beyond?


TH: Again, building a solid foundation for success on and off the field and court is the first step and continuing toward that goal is the next step.


EG: Billy Godwin was first named “interim head baseball coach” upon Randy Mazey’s suspension. At that time, you stated that there would be a national search at the conclusion of the upcoming season. Instead, Godwin was named head coach on Nov. 2, 2005. Why the change?


TH: We felt that Billy Godwin was the person we wanted to lead our program and that waiting until the end of the season would be unfair to this year’s team as well as this year’s recruiting class.  If we could have “interviewed” Coach Godwin earlier, we would have been able to make a simultaneous announcement.  But, of course, it was impossible to interview anyone until the decision on Coach Mazey had been made.


EG: At Virginia, your athletic program was in contention for the Sears Cup yearly. Most of ECU’s Olympic and non-revenue sports need significant upgrades. What has to be done to improve programs such as golf, tennis and cross country?


TH: I always believe that facilities are the most important investment an athletic program can make since those facilities will serve generations of athletes and coaches. The second level of investment would be to hire outstanding coaches, and the third level would be scholarship support to the maximum allowed by the NCAA.


EG: Why was the decision made on Tuesday to discontinue the men’s soccer program?


TH: It was initiated by the need to hire a new coach - I found that I could not ask a coach to take the position until ECU is capable of providing the men’s soccer team with the support necessary to have a fair chance against our conference opponents.  The record over 23 years in the CAA and C-USA of 17-151-5 means that we have averaged less than one conference win per year for over two decades. That is a clear indication that we have not provided the necessary support in the past and we are not currently positioned to provide such support.


EG: Do you think ECU will add one of the following varsity sports within the next decade: lacrosse, hockey, wrestling, crew or rugby?


TH: Since ECU has 19 sports (after the loss of men’s soccer) that means we support more sports than other C-USA schools and more than many of our competitors from BCS conferences with much larger budgets. Unless someone knows something that I don’t know, I believe that until ECU’s athletic budget is comparable to those of schools with 20 or more sports playing Division I-A football, that ECU will not add a sport.


EG: What are the advantages and disadvantages of competing in C-USA? 


TH: The disadvantage is the distance from our conference opponents requiring our teams to do a better job of non-conference scheduling to create and keep local rivalries (as we have done in football recently).


The advantage of C-USA is that we get to play in major media markets throughout the southeast and into the southwest – Orlando, Birmingham, Memphis, New Orleans, Tulsa, Dallas, Houston.


EG: Ever since you arrived, it’s seemed that ECU’s goal has been to position itself for a potential move into another athletic conference. What makes ECU a lucrative program when the next round of realignment occurs?


TH: We are not positioning for another conference except to protect ourselves if and when another re-alignment occurs. As we found out the hard way, C-USA is a major source for other conferences to raid.


EG: You instilled a rigorous class attendance policy for student-athletes causing them to lose their scholarship if they miss three or more classes. How has the policy been received and is it enforceable?


TH: It has been well received but enforcement is totally dependent on the willingness of professors to provide the athletic department with attendance information.  About 60 percent of the professors respond to our requests for information but we are slowly increasing that percentage.

Eric Gilmore