ECU head football coach Skip Holtz says he has taken the job at South Florida.
Holtz met with staff and players today at ECU. He spoke with WITN's Brian Meador and other reporters shortly after the team meeting.
"I just walked out of probably one of the most difficult team meetings I've ever had," Holtz said.
He said he and his wife had made a decision to go to South Florida, and despite what had been previously reported, the offer was made at 2:30 p.m. Thursday and then accepted, shortly before he met with the team.
"What has made this such a difficult decision... is how much I believe in this program, how much I believe in this program," Holtz said.
He went on to say he believes East Carolina has the chance to be one of the best programs on the East Coast.
"This is a very hard thing for me to do," Holtz said. "This has nothing to do with me not wanting to be in Greenville."
Holtz said Terry Holland is like a father, a brother and a friend, and that was an emotional goodbye as well.
He said family is the reason why he took the job in South Florida. Holtz's wife is from Port Charlotte, Florida. His parents live an hour from South Florida.
Holtz said he has every faith in the future of ECU's program.
"Skip Holtz is not East Carolina University," he said. "East Carolina University is about the fan base, and the Pirate nation, and the young men who are in that room, and the administrators, and everybody here, the media, everybody who makes it special, Greenville, the city of Greenville."
Holtz was scheduled to leave Thursday evening for Tampa. A press conference is expected Friday to officially introduce him as the new South Florida coach.
Holtz replaces Jim Leavitt, who was fired earlier this month after a school investigation concluded he grabbed a player by the throat, slapped him in the face, then lied about it.
Holtz compiled a 38-27 record in five seasons with the Pirates, including wins in the past two Conference USA championship games and high-profile victories against Virginia Tech and West Virginia in 2008.
Holtz was under contract through the 2013 season and had only a $100,000 buyout. He made $605,000 in base salary this year, though that figure rose to nearly $900,000 due to several incentives.
Holtz, the son of former Notre Dame and South Carolina coach Lou Holtz, has been an annual fixture on the list of top candidates for coaching vacancies elsewhere. He flirted with Cincinnati and Syracuse in recent years, but insisted he wasn't looking to leave the program he rebuilt from its miserable state earlier this decade.
East Carolina had lost 22 of 25 games, 19 by double-digit margins and seven by at least 33 points, when he arrived after the 2004 season. The Pirates steadily rose from there, reaching a bowl game in his second season and winning one the following year.
The consecutive league titles were the first conference crowns for the program since 1976, sending the Pirates to the Liberty Bowl each time. East Carolina was an independent from 1977-96 before joining C-USA.
Reports indicate Skip Holtz, ECU head football coach, has taken the job in South Florida.
Sources tell WITN News Holtz said early this afternoon he is still the head coach at ECU. Sources also report Holtz said this afternoon the media is misinterpreting what is going on.
Sources also say a meeting with players is scheduled for 3:00 p.m.
FanHouse.com first reported today Holtz has accepted the coach job at South Florida.
ESPN reported the website story.
Fanhouse.com reported Terry Holland, ECU Athletic Director, had been notified about the decision, and that Holtz is expected to be introduced by South Florida Friday at a news conference.
The Tampa Tribune is also reporting Holtz is taking the job in South Florida.
Holtz met at 1 p.m. today with staff.
Billy Weaver and Brian Meador are working on the story and will provide updates as information becomes available here on witn.com and on WITN News.
A number of media outlets in the state of Florida have reported that ECU head football coach Skip Holtz is the top candidate for the open head coaching job at the University of South Florida.
Holtz, who was in Orlando, Florida at a national coaches convention, Confirmed to WITN that he has been contacted by officials at USF about the current opening and was quoted by Florida newspapers as saying he would be interested in talking to school officials.
WITN sports director Billy Weaver talked to coach Holtz by phone Tuesday afternoon and Holtz said rumors he's already accepted or even been offered the job at USF are absolutely not true.
Holtz also told Weaver he is handling this situation in exactly the same way he has handled every other potential suitor in the past and that just because he is willing to listen to other schools about their job openings does not mean he is leaving East Carolina.
A major newspaper is reporting that East Carolina University head football coach Skip Holtz is emerging as a top candidate for a coaching job at another university.
The St. Petersburg Times in Florida reports that Holtz may be the top contender for the University of South Florida, who is looking for a new leader after firing their coach. The story was published on the Tampa Bay Online site early Tuesday morning.