GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Scottie Montgomery is out as head football coach at East Carolina University.
Montgomery was finishing his third season with the Pirates.
The university says the decision was made after consultation with the ECU Board of Trustees and special advisor for athletics Dave Hart.
The team was told of the action during a mandatory meeting at noon today.
Defensive Coordinator David Blackwell will coach the Pirates on Saturday.
"As much as we would have liked the outcome to be different, the progress of a program is ultimately measured by its competitiveness, win total and championships," Chancellor Cecil Staton said. "It is our decision to move in a different direction with new leadership."
The Pirates have won just nine games during Montgomery's tenure at ECU.
ECU interim head coach David Blackwell addressed the media late Thursday afternoon.
"My 100 percent focus is on our football players," said Blackwell. "You don't see the hurt. You don't want to be in that meeting. That was a rough meeting. Coach Montgomery was extremely loved by our football players. He has done a lot for them personally, and my focus right now is on them and on the mindset of this football team and on what we can do to prepare this team."
"You come off the practice field this morning, you've got a light practice tomorrow morning, you load the buses and go play a football game," said Blackwell. "We leave practice at 10 o'clock [Thursday] and everybody is in a good mood, everybody had an upbeat practice, guys were excited, and two hours later you're calling them back here with [Montgomery's firing]. So, we're kind of in an area that I don't think you're ever prepared for."
"From a professional standpoint? I've been ready for [a head coaching opportunity] for a long time," said Blackwell. "No question about that. All right? Now, is there a blueprint for this? No. I was at Clemson when we had a coaching change six games into the season, and Coach Sweeney became the interim head coach, and we won enough games down the stretch for him to get that job. And I have seen how he handled that and the blueprint he had to handle that. This is 48 hours before a football game. I don't know that I can ever -- obviously, I've never been a part it. I don't know if I ever remember that happening before. The timing of it is obviously hard."
Montgomery has two years left on his contract and ECU says he will be paid his base salary of $400,000 for each of those two years remaining. A news release points out that will come from athletics department funds, and not taxpayer dollars.
ECU is still searching for a new atheltics director after Jeff Compher agreed to a $1.25 million buyout back in March.
A news release says that new athletics director will finalize the replacement for Montgomery.
ECU statement on Montgomery firing
East Carolina University Chancellor Cecil P. Staton announced Thursday that head football coach Scottie Montgomery has been relieved of his duties, effective immediately. The decision was made after consultation with the ECU Board of Trustees and special advisor for athletics Dave Hart.
Through mutual agreement by all parties, Montgomery will not coach in ECU's season finale Saturday at NC State. Defensive coordinator David Blackwell will lead the Pirates (3-8) at Carter-Finley Stadium and during the transition, which includes the recruiting period.
"As much as we would have liked the outcome to be different, the progress of a program is ultimately measured by its competitiveness, win total and championships," Staton said. "It is our decision to move in a different direction with new leadership.
"He cared deeply for his players, was an outstanding mentor, and always focused on the word 'student' in student-athlete. We wish him all the best."
The search for ECU's new athletics director remains ongoing in earnest, and that individual will finalize the hire for Montgomery's replacement.
Montgomery compiled a 9-26 (.257) overall record leading the Pirates' program. He recently completed his third season in American Athletic Conference play with a 4-20 mark, which included a pair of fourth-place East Division standings and a fifth-place finish in 2018 following a 56-6 loss at Cincinnati last Friday.
Appointed as ECU's 21st head football coach on Dec. 13, 2015, Montgomery previously served a three-year tenure on the Duke staff - the last two as the Blue Devils' assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Prior to his second stint in Durham, he spent three seasons as wide receivers coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers after accepting his first collegiate position at his alma mater as receivers coach from 2006 to 2009.
Montgomery had two years left on his contract, which includes a base annual salary of $400,000, plus additional compensation for promotions and broadcast obligations. The buyout clause in his contract is for the base salary only, which is paid exclusively by the athletics department and not with taxpayer dollars.
Staton, the Board of Trustees and Hart will not be in a position to comment until the hiring processes have been completed.