ECU's head men's basketball coach Mack McCarthy is stepping down, so what's next for the future of the Pirate basketball program?
ECU Athletic Director Terry Holland spoke with the media about just that on the campus of ECU Sunday evening.
He says there is no new coach as of yet.
Holland told reporters he does not have one coach in mind, and there will be no time frame set for finding a coach.
McCarthy announced Saturday he is stepping down as coach and will move into a fundraising role within the athletics department.
East Carolina Head Men's Basketball Coach Mack McCarthy, who has led the Pirates to their highest three-year Conference USA win total in program history during his tenure, will relinquish his coaching duties and move into a fundraising role within the athletics department.
McCarthy announced his intentions following ECU’s final regular season contest against Southern Miss late Saturday.
McCarthy will officially step down from his coaching position following the Pirates’ participation in the C-USA Championship Tournament next week before transitioning into a planning and fundraising capacity aimed at the development and construction of an on-campus basketball practice facility.
“Over a period of time, (East Carolina Athletics Director) Terry Holland and I have discussed a change in my role at ECU related to the basketball program and Pirate athletics in general,” McCarthy said. “Although it is never easy to give up something you love doing as much as I love coaching, it is the right time for me to take advantage of this exciting and challenging opportunity. Initially, my main focus will be on the planning and fundraising for a much-needed practice facility.”
McCarthy has posted a 34-56 mark guiding ECU since the 2007-08 campaign after serving as the Pirates' associate head coach for two seasons. Before producing a current 10-20 record this year, he directed East Carolina to a 13-17 finish last season, which marked the highest number of wins for a Pirate squad since 2003-04. Of the 13 victories, five came during C-USA play - matching the program's top league win total since becoming a member of the Irving, Texas-based conference in 2001-02.
In addition to a school-record 14 C-USA triumphs over a three-year period, McCarthy's squads also set program standards in 2009-10 for single-season C-USA road wins (3) and completed its first sweep of a C USA opponent (Tulane) since 2004.
During his three-years of leadership, the Pirates have notched victories against a pair of Top 50 teams, including East Carolina's first-ever triumph over an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent, and produced a five-game winning streak for first time since 2003-04.
“Coach McCarthy has earned the respect and admiration of the Pirate Nation with his tireless effort as our coach and I am convinced that he will give equal effort to the development of a game plan to make our practice facility a reality,” Holland said. “There is certainly no one more aware of the need for this facility in order for ECU Basketball to compete for conference championships and post-season opportunities.
His initial charge will be to gather as much information as possible on the best facilities around the country and then help our major gifts officers find the resources to pay for a first-class facility.”
McCarthy, 57, has compiled a 342-233 record during his collegiate head coaching tenure, which includes 14 winning seasons and eight 20 win campaigns. Prior to rebuilding the Virginia Commonwealth 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.
McCarthy has three years remaining on a five-year contract he signed prior to the 2008-09 season after serving one campaign as the program's acting head coach.
Holland indicated a search for a replacement will be done in an expeditious manner, stating “the candid conversations that Coach McCarthy and I have had over the last few weeks have allowed me to begin thinking about the search process for finding a new coach.
"My goal as the AD is to help get our personnel into positions that allow them to be the most effective individually so that the athletic department team can collectively be the most successful as possible,” Holland added. “Coach Mack will be terrific in this new role and our overall program will benefit greatly when this practice facility becomes available for use by our student-athletes and coaches.”
FULL STATEMENT FROM MACK McCARTHY:
“Over a period of time, (East Carolina Athletics Director) Terry Holland and I have discussed a change in my role at ECU related to the basketball program and Pirate athletics in general. Although it is never easy to give up something you love doing as much as I love coaching, it is the right time for me to take advantage of this exciting and challenging opportunity. Initially, my main focus will be on the planning and fundraising for a much-needed practice facility.”
There are several very good reasons to do so at this time. First, I am very proud of the progress we have made since I arrived at ECU. While overall wins have not reflected the successes, we have had significant accomplishments. We won more conference games in a single season than any previous teams. We won three road conference contests this year, which hadn’t been done before. We had the first sweep of an opponent in league play. The 14 C-USA wins over three seasons is also an ECU record, and we hope to add to that total before the season ends. We, also, had ECU’s first win over an ACC team with a 75-69 victory over N.C. State.
Secondly, off the court our players and coaches have been heavily involved in community service and have worked tirelessly in the classroom to improve our APR issues. Our program is no longer under the threat of severe penalties that hung over our head when we took over Pirate basketball. Constant diligence will still be needed to continue this work in progress.
Finally, the progress that I have noted has not come without a huge effort on the part of every member of the coaching staff and team, as well as the whole Pirate Nation. I truly appreciate everyone’s efforts to help us build a foundation for the future of ECU Basketball. For me, the long hours have been a ‘labor of love.’ However, it does take a toll, and this seems like the ideal time for someone else to take this momentum and make the next step to move this program into the upper echelon of C-USA.
I know this change in my role will have an unpredictable impact on my terrific staff and their families. They are a talented group and will land on their feet. However, their future will be a concern until they land on their feet, equal to my concern about doing a great job in my new position in the athletic department.
Regarding our team, we have a good group of young men who have bright futures. I can’t thank them enough for their efforts. I will continue to do anything I can to assure their success on and off the court. Until a new coach is named, I will continue to coach, recruit and encourage our players in all their endeavors and responsibilities.”