Grady-White athletics complex

Thanks to a substantial donation to ECU from Grady White Boats, the signs leading into the school’s athletic facilities will now bear the company’s name.

Grady-White Boats made the largest donation in East Carolina athletics and Pirate Club history this week, which will go toward a new weight training facility on ECU’s athletics campus off Charles Boulevard.

The financial amount of the gift was not disclosed. Athletics director Jon Gilbert said the money was not for existing debt.

“For them to invest in us at this time speaks volumes,” he said. “I know that Greenville and eastern North Carolina is very near and dear to (owner) Eddie (Smith) and Grady-White Boats. ... A couple of things were really important and No. 1 was the gift was used for some type of project or initiative that we have at East Carolina athletics. They did not want the gift to go to fund some sort of debt.

“Because of the number of student-athletes we service, plus our dance and cheer team, in one weight room, we felt like a weight room would be a really good investment that would impact all of our student-athletes. The gift amount was really important and they wanted to make a very generous donation, but they also wanted to keep that gift confidential and anonymous.”

Each of the five entrance signs to the ECU athletics campus will feature the Grady-White Boats name as part of a new-look Grady-White Boats Athletic Campus.

Pirate players currently work out at the Murphy Center connected to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The Murphy Center will remain functional.

“We just renovated it,” Gilbert said of the Murphy Center. “Most Football Bowl Subdivision schools have more than one weight room. With the number of people going through there, this weight room will be a supplement to the first weight room.”

Grady-White Boats was founded in 1959 and builds 26 models from 18 to 45 feet at its 500,000 square-foot facility in Greenville.

The company, which has been under continuous private ownership since 1968 by National Marine Manufacturers Association hall of famer Smith, has been awarded every third-party customer satisfaction award ever presented in the marine industry.

Signage for Grady-White Boats will be featured at the main entrance to the Pirates’ athletics complex off Charles Boulevard and entrances to Clark-LeClair Stadium, Fieldside Drive, Berkley and 14th Street and Charles Boulevard and Ficklen Drive.

“It will be lit, where you can see it at night, and it will be very prominent,” Gilbert said. “I do think from an aesthetic standpoint, it is a really nice addition and a front door entering our athletics complex.”

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