ECU Head Basketball Coach Ricky Stokes Is Stepping Down

WITN Sports has learned ECU Basketball Coach Ricky Stokes is stepping down.

WITN talked to Ricky Stokes this afternoon. The former Virginia player and Virginia Tech head coach will become the associate athletics director for basketball. Associate head coach Mack McCarthy -- the former head coach at Chattanooga and Virginia Commonwealth -- will lead the team next season.

Stokes had a record of 14-44 in two seasons coaching the Pirates, including 6-24 last season.

Athletics director Terry Holland says the change will relieve building pressure on next year's team to show progress amid speculation about Stokes' job security.

Stokes had three seasons left on the five-year contract he signed in April 2005. He was set to make 240-thousand dollars this season.

Here is the ECU news release:

August 6, 2007
Contact: Tom McClellan, Athletic Media Relations

Current Associate Head Coach Mack McCarthy Named Acting Head Coach; Chris Ferguson Named Acting Associate Head Coach


GREENVILLE, N.C. - After lengthy conversations with East Carolina University Director of Athletics Terry Holland that began this spring, head basketball coach Ricky Stokes has decided to become the associate athletics director for basketball according to an announcement made by Holland Monday.

Stokes said he “was grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as ECU men’s basketball coach for the last two seasons” and would like to believe his “efforts have the basketball program headed in the right direction.” Stokes concluded by saying, “I know that the Pirate Nation will be proud of the young men that will take the court this year.”

“Coach Stokes’ career change will allow him to continue building a first class basketball program here at ECU by helping us plan and finance a practice facility for our basketball and volleyball programs,” Holland said. “The important building blocks for future success are in place at ECU because of Coach Stokes’ hard work and leadership over the last two seasons.”

*Stokes has assembled an outstanding group of young men who are totally committed to making ECU Basketball successful at the highest level; *Stokes has focused on academic achievement and all nine returning players have GPA’s above 2.4; *Stokes has focused on eliminating missed class time in a number of ways reflected most accurately in the fact that this year’s powerful non-conference schedule will not require a single missed class day; and *Stokes has assembled an outstanding staff that is as strong as ever.

“I also believe these players and the current basketball staff deserve an opportunity to show us all the progress that has been made,” Holland said. “Coach Stokes’ move to athletics administration relieves some of the pressure on the team to win a specific number of games this season and gives the remaining staff members and the team an opportunity to develop chemistry at a level that would have been difficult with the distraction created by continual speculation regarding Coach Stokes’ position as the head coach.”

Holland also announced that current associate head coach Mack McCarthy would serve as the program’s acting head coach for the 2007-08 season because of his on-the-floor head coaching experience that spans a combined 16 seasons guiding the Chattanooga and Virginia Commonwealth programs. Assistant coach Chris Ferguson will assume the role of associate head coach. Holland noted that McCarthy and Ferguson have a wealth of experience in college coaching at the Division I level and will provide this young team with the leadership necessary to move forward.

McCarthy has compiled a 309-177 record during his head coaching tenure, which includes 14 winning seasons and eight 20-win campaigns. Prior to rebuilding the VCU program, which he capped with a 21-11 mark in 2001-02, he led Chattanooga to unprecedented heights during his 12-year stay that included five NCAA Tournament and two NIT appearances. While at UTC, he was a three-time Southern Conference Coach-of-the-Year selection and left the league as the winningest coach in its history. He enjoyed his finest season in 1996-97, leading Chattanooga to 24 overall wins and NCAA Tournament triumphs over Georgia and Illinois to help the Mocs reach the Sweet Sixteen for the only time in school history.

Prior to his arrival at ECU, Stokes played an active role on coaching staffs which have made nine NCAA Tournament appearances since 1991, including two “Sweet Sixteens” and an “Elite Eight.” A 13-time NCAA Tournament veteran and two-time Final Four contributor as both a player and assistant coach, he took over the East Carolina program in 2005 with four years of previous head coaching experience at Virginia Tech. END OF RELEASE

A press conference will be held Thursday.