Former JMU football coach Mike Houston hired as ECU's next head coach

GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) - Former James Madison University Head Football Coach Mike Houston has been hired by ECU as their next football coach.

The hire came just a short time ago following an emergency ECU Board of Trustees meeting.

Houston was born in Franklin, and has an overall 80-25 record as a head coach

He signed a five year contract with ECU and will be formally introduced during a news conference Tuesday morning in Greenville.

“Mike made it perfectly clear to me this is the job he covets and he fully understands the tradition and prestige of Pirate football," said newly hired AD Jon Gilbert. "He is a man of high integrity, a great communicator and believes in molding student-athletes on and off the field. He’s going to be a great asset to our university and the Greenville community. I know he can’t wait to get started and he and his staff will work tirelessly to get the Pirates back on a path to success.”

Houston amassed a 37-6 record in his three years at JMU. Prior to arriving in Harrisonburg, Houston spent two years at The Citadel as head coach.

“I’m delighted Coach Houston is joining Pirate Nation,” ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton said. “He brings a winning tradition and high expectations, and we look forward to the coach and his team getting to work.”

ECU will fork up to $500,000 for Houston's buyout with JMU. The new coach will be paid a base salary of $500,000 but when you add in incentives and bonuses that jumps to $1.3 million in the first year.

Last week Scottie Montgomery was fired by ECU after being the head coach for three seasons, compiling a 9-26 record.


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James Madison Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne announced Sunday that football Head Coach Mike Houston will depart the university to accept another coaching opportunity at a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) program.

“We are grateful to Mike Houston, his family and his staff for their commitment to JMU over the last three years,” Bourne said. “When we hired Mike, he was the right coach at the right time for our program. He injected energy, he went about his job the right way, he cared about our student-athletes and he won. That said, success at James Madison is not determined by one individual. The foundation for success here remains intact with our returning and prospective student-athletes, our support staff, the athletics and campus infrastructure, the JMU administration, a passionate fan base and donor support. I am confident that we will have a new coach in place shortly who will build upon that foundation and carry us to even greater success.”

Houston coached the Dukes to three FCS Playoff appearances in three seasons with a 37-6 overall record. JMU went 9-4 in 2018, finished second in the Colonial Athletic Association and advanced to the Second Round of the FCS Playoffs. JMU went 14-1 in each of his first two seasons with a national championship in 2016 and a national runner-up finish in 2017. Both seasons included 8-0 records and first-place finishes in the CAA as JMU won 20 straight league games spanning four seasons. The Dukes also defeated FBS ECU 34-14 in 2017 and hosted ESPN’s College GameDay for the second time in three years.

JMU has engaged Parker Executive Search as consultant to immediately commence a national search.

Statement from Mike Houston:

“The past three years for Amanda and I and our boys have been nothing short of amazing as far as our experience in Harrisonburg, Virginia and being part of James Madison University. I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to be part of what I believe is a perfect college environment found at JMU. I will forever be indebted to Jeff Bourne, Vice President Charlie King and President Jonathan Alger for believing in me and handing me the reins to coach the James Madison University football program. There’s only one JMU. This is a special place and a place that will be hard to ever replicate in future coaching opportunities. I will always have incredible memories of my time here. To JMU Nation, I want to say thank you for the most loyal and passionate support that any coach could ever ask for. My only regret is not getting back to Frisco, Texas this year. I am confident in and believe in the players in this program and look forward to following along next year as they make another incredible run.”

Forever grateful,

Mike Houston