GREENVILLE, N.C. - Bill Carson, East Carolina University's Head Men's Track and Field Coach for the past 40 years, announced his retirement effective immediately Wednesday after athletics department officials discovered and self-reported two secondary NCAA violations.
Carson, 70, accepted the top Pirate track position in 1967 and has guided the program from ground level to one that developed Olympic competitors. Under his direction, ECU athletes advanced to the NCAA National Championships in 18 of the last 19 years. In addition, he produced 70 All-America selections and 40 individual event champions at the IC4A, Colonial Athletic Association or Conference USA championships.
The secondary violations cited include a failure to adhere to university policies and procedures mandated by the NCAA regarding the filing of documentation forms and a subsequent lack of disclosure.
"While there was no recruiting or competitive advantage involved with these violations, I failed to handle the administrative end of this position," Carson said. "I didn't modernize and keep up with the paperwork in recent years. It's my fault and it falls on my shoulders. There certainly wasn't any cheating or anything like that which would jeopardize the integrity of East Carolina University, our program and collegiate track and field.
"I admit to the violations and those are self-reported," Carson continued. "There were no recruiting violations, no enticements or anything like that but, nevertheless, we don't want any marks against us that would hurt these kids who currently are in or have been a part of our program over the years."
Known for his ability to produce top-notch sprinters year after year, Carson earned his share of coaching honors during his illustrious career, including being named the NCAA District III Coach of the Year in 1988 and Southeast Region Coach of the Year in 2002. Among Carson's accomplishments, he was named president of the IC4A in 1999, was named as head coach of the South team at the 1993 United States Olympic Festival, and served as the Broad Event Chairman for Sprint Development for USA Track and Field from 1991-97, with the most highly noted athlete in the development program being world-class sprinter Maurice Greene.
Carson also had several of his athletes earn meet MVP awards and special honors at CAA and IC4A meets. He was responsible for four CAA Rookies-of-the-Year and two CAA Athletes-of-the-Year. In addition, his Pirate teams won three consecutive Southern Conference titles in the 1970s.
On the international scene, Carson is well-respected as he helped produce several Olympic-level athletes. Included in his list of prominent athletes is Lee McNeill, who was a five-time All-America selection at ECU before going on to represent the United States at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. McNeill competed for the U.S. on the 4x100-meter relay team.
More recently, Carson served as an assistant coach for the United States Junior Olympic team that attended the World Junior Championships in Italy in 2004. He served as the team's sprint coach and directed two relay squads (4x100 and 4x400) to a pair of world records and a total of 12 gold medals.
"Coach Carson is a legend in the East Carolina University Athletics Department will continue to be a friend, fan and ambassador for us, on both a personal and professional level," ECU Director of Athletics Terry Holland said. "We wish him the best in his well-earned retirement and count on seeing Coach and Mrs. Coach (Ruth Ann) at athletic and other campus events for many years to come. He has certainly earned the recognition of the track community, both nationally and internationally. Coach Carson and ECU Athletics are committed to NCAA rules compliance and to responding immediately to violations, even those classified as secondary violations."
A native of Steubenville, Ohio, Carson graduated from West Virginia University in 1960 and competed as a senior co-captain for the Mountaineers' track team. The top sprinter in the WVU program for three years, he returned to his alma mater in 1963 as an assistant coach.
Carson spent the 1965 season as head track and field coach at Furman University and led the Paladins to the Southern Conference Outdoor Championship. He moved south later that year to the University of Florida, where he completed work on his master's degree in physical education and served as assistant coach from 1965-66.
After a short stint (1966-67) as head track coach at Florida's Ocala High School, Carson was hired at East Carolina in September 1967.
Holland announced that Curt Kraft, who currently serves as East Carolina's head women's track coach, would assume oversight of the men's program for the remainder of the 2007-08 season.