The man who redefined East Carolina sports for the new millennium is stepping away as the school’s director of athletics, but Terry Holland isn’t going anywhere yet.
Two weeks removed from revealing that the ECU football team was joining the Big East in 2014, the university announced on Wednesday that Holland, 70, will transition to the role of athletics director emeritus, effective when the school finds his successor.
In the same statement, ECU announced that the school’s four-venue Olympic-sports complex that is largely the fruit of Holland’s labor will soon bear his name.
In lieu of addressing further specifics on Wednesday, Holland planned to meet with media members Thursday afternoon. In a memo to his staff, however, the head of ECU sports since 2004 said the purpose of the decision was to give ECU flexibility.
“The chancellor and the board of trustees will now have the opportunity to make a leadership transition whenever such a transition is most advantageous to this athletics department’s long-term success,” Holland said in the memo.
According to a university source, Holland will retain his current salary when he transitions into the new role.
When that will be remains unclear. Before he hands over the keys to a new AD, Holland might be able to land ECU’s non-football programs in a new league, something he was working on in the aftermath of the Big East announcement.
“There will be no change in the operation of the athletics department in the immediate future, but I am available to discuss any concerns and/or suggestions that you might have as we continue to move forward through the strategic planning process already in progress,” Holland said in the memo.
ECU head football coach Ruffin McNeill, whose football team is in the midst of preparation for the Dec. 22 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl against Louisiana, said the news about Holland was a surprise.
“Coach has done a great job everywhere he’s been – Virginia, Davidson and here,” McNeill said of Holland after Wednesday night’s practice. “He was a major part of me coming here and deciding to come here. Coach has been first class since I’ve been here. I know he’ll still be around and be involved.”
The massive stadium and facility modernization project and the navigation of the Pirates into the Big East are perhaps the most recognizable accomplishments of the eight-year Holland tenure to this point.
The former Virginia basketball coach and administrator also hired the head coaches of ECU’s flagship teams – McNeill in football (and Skip Holtz before him), Jeff Lebo in men’s basketball, Heather Macy in women’s basketball, Beth Keylon-Randolph in softball and Billy Godwin in baseball.
“Terry Holland is one of the best leaders in the country,” Godwin said on Wednesday. “Coach Holland has been a tremendous asset to our baseball program and coaches.”