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Pirates make untimely turn to interim Killinger

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Coach Heather Macy, right, directs players at East Carolina women's basketball practice on Oct. 2, 2017.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Less than three weeks away from starting a new season on Nov. 6, the East Carolina women’s basketball team had a major change in leadership Wednesday when head coach Heather Macy resigned at the conclusion of an ECU internal review into the program.

Macy, who is the winningest coach in ECU women’s basketball history after eight seasons in charge, cited her misunderstanding about practice rules as the reason for her resignation. Chad Killinger, who joined Macy’s staff in June, accepted the role of interim head coach.

Killinger has mainly coached at the junior college level, most recently as head coach at Moberly Area (Mo.) Community College for seven seasons, and he said Wednesday he had hopes of becoming a Division I head coach. But he didn’t plan on it being under these circumstances.

“I had promised (Macy) two to three years of working really hard for her and to help our program get to the NCAA tournament,” said Killinger, who has six children and graduated from Franklin (Ind.) College with a degree in physical education with an emphasis on athletic training in 1997. “I really had no inclination at all. The (internal review) started way after I had gotten here.”

ECU has not released many details about its review, other than it was led by the athletic department’s office of compliance.

The Pirates’ official website, ecupirates.com, describes part of the compliance department’s role as monitoring various rules and regulations.

“East Carolina University is committed and obligated to the principle of institutional control in operating its athletics programs. This task is accomplished by operating in accordance with NCAA, the American Athletic Conference and university rules and regulations,” the website stated. “The charge of the ECU's athletics office of compliance is to not only educate, monitor and verify NCAA rules compliance for the athletic department, but also work collectively with the institution's various constituency groups to ensure that policies and procedures are implemented to ensure that we are maintaining institutional control.”

Although ECU has concluded its internal review, situations with compliance typically can lead to further NCAA review.

“Obviously, we had an investigation done by our compliance department and we are not anticipating any NCAA sanctions, at this point, but that is probably a question that I am not equipped to answer right now,” Killinger said Wednesday.

ECU’s internal review began in early August.

The team’s first preseason practice was Sept. 28, when Macy said in a release that, “We gave them a couple of days off leading up to this first day, which I think created this energy level that felt great.” 

She attended AAC basketball media day Monday in Philadelphia.

But on Wednesday morning, Killinger and other staff members were informed of Macy’s resignation. An emotional team meeting, which didn’t include Macy, was held later in the day.

“That was about as emotional as a room as I’ve been in,” Killinger said. “Those girls came here to play for her and loved her. We really have a great environment, and I think that’s something you don’t always see at the Division I level.

“I feel like we were making progress with where we were at, so we can’t change anything and we are not going to change the offense or the defense or anything like that. ... Our biggest concern is our student-athletes and trying to help them transition through this change.”

The Pirates’ first five games will be at home, beginning Nov. 6 against Maryland-Eastern Shore as part of a men’s-women’s doubleheader in Minges Coliseum.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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