WILMINGTON — An annual tradition for college athletic departments in the Tar Heel state involves reaching out to their respective fan bases in the spring.
Thursday evening, Jeff Compher, new athletic director for East Carolina University, joined Ruffin McNeill, head coach of the ECU football team, and Jeff Lebo, head coach of the ECU basketball team, for ECU's Pirate Armada, which made a stop in Wilmington.
"This is fun because you get a chance to spend some time with fans since they come to see us for football, baseball and basketball and they travel the two hours and fifteen minutes to Greenville. We owe it as coaches to come to their turf once in a while,” said Lebo.
In previous years, the Pirate Armada was held at Jungle Rapids, a family fun park, but Thursday night the event took place in an appropriate setting on the USS North Carolina Battleship.
"To come out here tonight and see the ECU flags over the USS North Carolina Battleship was certainly a great way to be greeted when we got out of the car and all the people that came out tonight really shows the kind of fan support we have here in Wilmington," said Compher.
Wilmington is a location that continues to be kind for ECU's athletic programs because of the amount of talented athletes from the area that continue their athletic careers in Greenville. ECU's football team is a shining example of that fact since as many as five players (current players: Daquan Barnes and Jonathan Powers and committed recruits: Trevon Brown and Larry Williams and invited walk-on Jacen Murphy) from Wilmington could be on the Pirates' football roster when the season starts this fall.
"It's a great city, a lot of great talent, great coaches down here in this area and it's near home where I grew up in Lumberton. We love recruiting this area,” said McNeill.
An extra sight ECU fans in the Port City were treated to was ECU basketball's CollegeInsider.com Postseason
Tournament Championship Trophy. The Pirate basketball team posted a 23-12 record and the CIT title was the program's first postseason championship.