GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina Head Football Coach Skip Holtz, who has led the Pirates to two bowl appearances and consecutive winning seasons for the first time since the 1999 and 2000 campaigns, has agreed to tentative terms of a proposed contract that would help secure his position through the 2013 season according to an announcement from ECU Director of Athletics Terry Holland Tuesday.
Specific details of the proposed six-year contract, which also includes a modified incentive and bonus structure, cannot be released until final approval by the East Carolina University Board of Trustees.
Holtz became East Carolina's 19th head football coach in the school's history on Dec. 3, 2004 and quickly revived a program that had stumbled to just three wins in a 25-game period in two-plus seasons prior to his arrival. Accompanying the Pirates' turnaround on the field, which include a 7-6 finish in 2006 and an 8-5 record in 2007, has been dramatic school-record attendance increases at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
In all, ECU has drawn six of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium's top 10 all-time crowds since Holtz' arrival which helped produce a new school record a year ago in both average (41,537) and total attendance (249,219).
"I'm honored and excited to have the opportunity to be the head football coach at East Carolina," Holtz said. "I am certainly proud of the improvement we have made as a program over the last three years and I'm grateful to the confidence and commitment that our administrative leadership continues to have in our progress. I strongly believe we all share the common goal of ECU successfully competing at college football's highest level."
Holtz initiated the rebuilding process in 2005, using a wide-open offensive scheme that produced the school's fourth-best passing attack in history before launching the Pirates back into college football's competitive arena a year later with one of the program's top defensive efforts in school history.
East Carolina followed by using a balance of both in 2007 to earn its highest Conference USA win total since gaining football membership in 1997, just one shy of earning a berth in the league championship game. The Pirates' 8-5 mark, which concluded with a 41-38 victory over No. 22 Boise State in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl for ECU's first post-season triumph in seven years, was produced despite playing one of the toughest schedules in program history that featured four Bowl Championship Series members.
After standing among the nation's top 25 units in pass defense in 2005 by allowing 184.9 yards a game, East Carolina's defense enhanced its developing run-stopping reputation by transforming a unit that surrendered 233.3 yards a game and ranked 114th nationally against the rush in 2004 into a group that allowed just a combined 143.7 yards on the ground per contest and held nine opponents under the 100-yard ledger during Holtz' second and third campaigns. In addition, the Pirates ranked fourth nationally in turnover margin in 2007, grabbing two or more takeaways in 11 of 13 games.
Offensively, Holtz tutored quarterback James Pinkney to 2,773-yard and 2,783-yard seasons as a junior and senior, respectively, in 2005 and 2006. In 2007, he helped fine-tune the efforts of running back Chris Johnson, who turned in the program's first single-season 1,000-yard rushing performance in four years and was college football's national statistical champion in all-purpose yards before becoming a first round draft pick by the Tennessee Titans. The Pirates also tallied 403 points during the course of the season, which marks the highest total in the school's record books.
"The proposed agreement recognizes and rewards Coach Holtz for all he and his family have done for ECU Athletics and the entire community," Holland said. "It is our intention to encourage them to stay with us a long, long time."
Holtz, who has played an active role on coaching staffs which have captured seven major bowl titles in eight appearances since 1987, officially ended a six-year position on the South Carolina offensive staff when he moved to Greenville.
Holtz, 44, completed his sixth season as South Carolina's assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach in 2004. He displayed his all-around abilities as a coach, remaining closely involved with the Gamecock offense in addition to handling a variety of duties as assistant head coach under his father, Lou Holtz.