Holland Addresses The Timeline Of Events Surrounding Men's Basketball
Aug. 23, 2007
ECU Director of Athletics Terry Holland addresses the reorganization of the men's basketball program:
"Immediately after the completion of our 6-24 season, the senior athletics administration (Nick Floyd, Jimmy Bass, Rosie Thompson and Terry Holland) began a series of discussions with Ricky Stokes, Mack McCarthy, and Chris Ferguson about the future direction of the ECU Basketball Program. The ground rules were that `every possible option had to be on the table and would receive serious consideration' and that this would be a fluid, evolving process. Even though the discussions at times were emotional and intense for the individuals involved, I gained a greater respect for these three coaches as they tried to do the right thing for our team members and ECU Basketball even when it might be contrary to their own career aspirations.
"By the end of April, we reached a consensus that bringing in a new coaching staff at that time would not be in the best interests of the program for a number of reasons. Foremost among those reasons was the fact that this staff had made terrific progress in improving the academic success of our basketball players and had recruited another strong class of young men for this coming year. These young men seemed to deserve a chance to succeed without the total disruption that hiring a whole new staff would entail.
"We then focused on what structural change could and should occur to give the 2007-08 Pirate team the best chance to be successful in this most important season. Every coach agreed that if their participation in some way hampered the chances for the team to be successful that they would begin to look for another job and/or leave their current positions with the university based on their contractual terms. Attempting to reduce such discussions to orderly words on paper is relatively impossible.
"By late June/early July, after considering every possible option for structural change, it became apparent to all that our best chance to move ahead would be with Mack McCarthy serving in the role of Acting Head Coach and Chris Ferguson as the Associate Head Coach. The consensus was that if Coach Stokes remained as the head coach, the season's focus would be about his job status and the team's performance would assume an unfair secondary role.
"These discussions were not concluded until the weekend of August 4th. By that time, speculation concerning changes in our basketball program had become so ill-informed that I felt we should clear the air with the August 6th announcement, even though the timing was not optimal as I was out of the country and we did not have a final resolution to several aspects of the changes. What we did have was a continuing good faith agreement to do our best to do what is right for East Carolina University and our basketball program.
"Even though Coach Stokes' contract called for a pre-determined cash `buy-out' if he were removed from the head coaching position, he was willing to continue working with our department for the good of the basketball program instead of taking the `buy-out.' However, we have found creating a new position within our department to be impractical at this time.
"After considerable review and deliberation by the university and Coach Stokes, the parties have mutually agreed that the appropriate way to proceed is to terminate the employment contract between the university and Coach Stokes by initiating the `buy out' clause of his April 1, 2005 contract with the university. The university, in accordance with the relevant terms of the contract, will make a one-time lump sum payment of $250,000 to Coach Stokes for his services to date. This will end the university's contractual and financial obligations to Coach Stokes.
"Mack McCarthy will provide excellent leadership as our head coach and I believe the Pirate faithful will enthusiastically embrace this team as they battle to make ECU Men's Basketball a factor in the Conference USA race.
"This has been a time-consuming and difficult journey but I believe that our basketball program is now best positioned to have the "turnaround" year that we all want for these players and coaches in the 2007-08 season.
"It is time for the Pirate Nation and our athletic department to devote our time and effort to the young men and women who will represent our university this year in all our sports. Therefore, there will be no further comment by the individuals involved in these actions. Our focus over the next few months will be to help each team, including Men's Basketball, have the best experience possible."