BYH Zoning Commission. Take your chairs and sit in the field by Bostic Sugg in morning or afternoon and tell the...

Gilbert: It's not about me


East Carolina first-year athletics director Jon Gilbert speaks during the Greenville Chamber of Commerce Power Luncheon at the Hilton, Tuesday afternoon. (Juliette Cooke/The Daily Reflector)


By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Jon Gilbert does not want to be the face of East Carolina athletics, and he said as much on Tuesday afternoon.

That certainly does not mean ECU’s new athletics director doesn’t want to make all the big decisions for Pirate sports and plot their collective strategy for success, but Gilbert hopes the identity of his regime as AD will be the athletes and coaches who make the sports happen.

“It’s not about me, and I don’t have all the answers,” Gilbert told a crowd at the Hilton Greenville during the Greenville Chamber of Commerce Power Luncheon, one of his first public appearances since being hired away from the same position at Southern Miss to replace former ECU AD Jeff Compher. “I tell my staff that multiple times. We have great people inside our department, and we have great people in this community, so I’m spending the first 100 days talking and listening about where we’re going.”

There is reason to believe where the Pirates are going is up, especially in the wake of three straight losing football seasons under head coach Scottie Montgomery, which led to Gilbert’s first big ECU decision before he had even sat down in his office.

The former Lenoir-Rhyne football player who once pursued a career as a coach made sure the Pirates got their best man as a coach. Gilbert helped to finalize a deal to bring former James Madison head man Mike Houston to Greenville.

Although there are countless other variables at play, the next, most obvious step is winning again.

“We’ve got to invest,” Gilbert said of turning around the football team. “There are a lot of reasons we were 3-9 over the last three years. Some of that is infrastructure. I want to make sure we’re building the foundation the right way to sustain success. We’ve got really good people in place, but we need everybody on this journey together. We can’t do it by ourselves.”

Gilbert said it’s not his style to expect a certain number of wins in a season from a team or coach.

That said, the new AD expects the progress under Houston to be immediately noticeable, which perhaps is pressure in its own right.

“I do think when we run out of the tunnel at the end of August in Raleigh (for the Pirates’ season opener against N.C. State), you will see a much different football team than you saw last year,” he said. “I’m not saying how many wins that will be, but I do know you’ll see a different team because of the expectations that our coaching staff will place on (the team).”

Gilbert stressed that sports are by far not the most important thing happening on ECU’s campus, but he simultaneously contended that they are the most visible thing.

As he detailed his tenets for a successful department, one of Gilbert’s keys was building a stronger relationship with the community surrounding the university and well beyond the city limits.

“We are not the University of Greenville. We are East Carolina University,” Gilbert said. “Being in the position that we’re in athletically and the visibility, we should be engaging our entire eastern North Carolina communities. It is important to me that we are out.”

Gilbert acknowledged ECU has work to do in order to reconnect with its fans and earn their trust again, but he urged those fans to do their part in the rebuild by buying tickets or season tickets to games.

“We want you to be on campus to be a part of the return of East Carolina football,” Gilbert said. “Engage with us. I am around. I will be visible at our athletic events. I’m being talked into starting a Twitter account, which I’ve never done. I don’t know if they’ll be successful or not.”

Contact Nathan Summers at nsummers@reflector.com, 252-329-9595 and follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


February 17, 2019 - 1 minute ago

East Carolina softball’s four-game undefeated run through the Pirate Clash ended Sunday with the Pirates off to their best start to a season since beginning 8-0 in 2006.

After consecutive walk-off wins Friday, Erin Poepping’s 10-strikeout performance from the circle Saturday guided…


February 17, 2019

Facing cold temperatures and an early deficit at Clark-LeClair Stadium, there were times Sunday when things could have gotten away from East Carolina’s baseball team.

The Pirates battled, however, and rallied during the middle and late innings to beat Radford 4-3 and complete an opening…


February 17, 2019

East Carolina basketball coaches have been hot on the recruiting trail, including for Boston 7-footer Charles Coleman who also is a target by Wake Forest, Duke and DePaul, as the Pirates have faced difficulties on the court for another season.

A 79-69 loss to Memphis on Wednesday night, a game in…


February 16, 2019

East Carolina was busy on indoor and outdoor tennis courts this weekend, highlighted by the ECU women winning both of their matches in Greenville for a four-match win streak.

The Pirates (4-2) took a 5-2 victory over James Madison at the River Birch Tennis Center, then swept Campbell at the ECU…


February 16, 2019

After serving as East Carolina baseball’s first starting pitcher of the season and hitting for himself as the designated hitter, Alec Burleson was thinking he would remain at DH or maybe play first base for Game 2 of Friday’s doubleheader versus Radford.

Instead, some conversations led…


February 15, 2019

A total of 21 runs by East Carolina powered the Pirates to a college baseball opening day sweep of Radford at Clark-LeClair Stadium on Friday.

Spencer Brickhouse’s go-ahead, two-run home run keyed a 6-2 win, then ECU used a 16-hit barrage for a 15-9 victory in Game 2 of the doubleheader…


February 15, 2019


Jake Washer, junior: Washer is back as East Carolina’s starting catcher after receiving Major League Baseball draft interest following his breakout sophomore season. In addition to showing power with six home runs and 40 RBIs a year ago, Washer posted a smooth .287 batting average.…


February 15, 2019

Equipped with All-American Bryant Packard ready to serve again as East Carolina’s leadoff man in the batting order and a stable of proven pitchers who battled during the preseason for lead rotation spots, ECU is ready to face an opponent and begin a new season.

Radford’s visit to Clark-…


February 15, 2019



Alec Burleson, sophomore: Burleson will be a frequent player at designated hitter and first base in the lineup, but his main focus in the season opener versus Radford will be on the pitcher’s mound. The left-hander, who was the American Athletic Conference rookie…


February 15, 2019

One of baseball’s many adages is that good teams need to be strong “up the middle,” a reference that focuses on important defensive positions from catcher to middle infielders at shortstop and second base and then into the outfield with a center fielder.

This East Carolina team is…

266 stories in ECU. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 27
        Next Page»   Last Page»