By now, most Pirate fans know that I
welcome the opportunity to answer questions and enjoy the chance for
constructive debate on almost any issue.
Before attempting to address some of the issues you
raised in your "Article of the Day" on 9/22/05, I feel the need to
clarify my understanding of the athletic director’s position at
ECU. First and foremost, I do not believe my job description
would include "catering" to any particular group. As much as I
can humanly do so, my job is to keep ECU's long-term best interests in
the forefront regardless of the agendas of various individuals or
You noted that "Since his arrival, Holland has attempted
to get Pirate fans on the same page" and that means I have to address
the issues that have divided us. In many cases, these are
complicated and, sometimes, emotional issues - if they were not
difficult to address, they would never have divided us.
Addressing fan behavior that prevents others from
enjoying sporting events is a national issue, not a local one. My
expectation for ECU is that we should be willing to address difficult
issues and resolve them in manner that projects ECU as a "leader" and
not a "follower" - and definitely not as a "second-class imitation."
In my 45+ years in intercollegiate athletics, I have
seen some great home court support but I cannot recall one single game
that was won by cursing the opponents, the officials and/or the
My personal experience would clearly indicate that you
do not win individual games by such "irrational" behavior and that you
definitely do not build a successful program with that type of
behavior. I can personally cite examples of excellent students
and excellent athletes who refuse to consider certain outstanding
institutions because of the way a brother, sister, etc..., was treated
at a sporting event at that institution. That may not have much impact
on an institution that recruits nationally for students and its
athletes, but I sincerely believe that if ECU "fouls its own nest" in
this manner, the price we will pay (not just in athletics) is greater
than we can imagine..
You make a polite threat that students could decide to
withhold their contributions to athletics if the athletic director
espouses a philosophy contrary to what happens (in your words), "when
you combine alcohol with plenty of irrational twenty-something's."
While we all may occasionally act irrationally on game
days, we should try to avoid allowing such behavior to enter our daily
lives. Should students withhold tuition dollars from the
economics department because a professor is "banging his head against
the wall" teaching students that massive credit card debt is contrary
to their own long-term self-interest in spite of the immediate pleasure
they may get from their purchases? Should students withhold fees
from programs that advise students on alcohol, drug, conflict
resolution or other self- destructive behaviors?
I believe that the kinds of behavior we are talking
about minimizing are equally self-destructive and, more importantly,
have a negative impact on this university as a whole. As much as
I personally love to win, if that is what it takes to win, then count
me as a "loser."
I respect the right of our students and other fans to
behave in whatever manner they chose to behave. However, just as with
other teachers and counselors here at ECU, it is my job to make sure
our students understand the consequences of their actions to the best
of my ability based on my own personal knowledge and experience.
From a personal standpoint, I also reserve the right to
refuse to be a part of something that stands in stark contrast to basic
human civility and respect. Without those guiding (and limiting)
forces, we all are less than we could be.