ECU turns to former AD Hart for leadership through athletic transition

Dave Hart, who recently retired as Tennessee's athletic director, will oversee the Pirates' search for a new basketball coach

Former ECU AD Dave Hart has been hired to lead the Pirates' program for at least the next six months

Dave Hart, who was East Carolina’s athletic director from 1987-95, has been hired by the school to help with the administrative transition brought about by the abrupt departure of athletic director Jeff Compher.

Hart, 67, will not be the interim AD, but rather a special adviser for athletics to Chancellor Cecil P. Stanton. He has signed a six-month contract to do a complete review of the Pirates’ athletic program, Staton announced Thursday.

“During his more than 30 years in college athletic administration, Dave Hart led some of the most successful athletic programs in the country,” Staton said in a statement announcing the move. “We believe his extraordinary experience, combined with his knowledge of ECU will be uniquely helpful as we search for the best leadership for our athletics program in the coming years. I look forward to working with Dave and gaining from his insight in the coming months.”

Hart, who retired as athletic director at Tennessee last August, returns to Greenville at a pivotal time for ECU athletics.

Not only are the Pirates at a pivotal juncture in their search for a new basketball coach, with potential candidates Joe Dooley of Florida Gulf Coast and Wes Miller of UNC Greensboro becoming available as their teams’ seasons have ended over the past few days, but the school is also in the middle of a major renovation project to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

There is also the possibility of a coaching change in football after two straight 3-9 seasons under Scottie Montgomery.

According to the ECU release, Hart “will be tasked with providing operational and strategic guidance to the chancellor relating to athletic affairs as well as leading the search for the next head coach of the ECU men’s basketball program.”

Hart has been running his own consulting firm, Athletics Legacy Partners, since his retirement from Tennessee.

A graduate of Alabama, Hart first came to ECU in 1983 as associate athletic director for external affairs. He became the executive director of the Pirate Club two years later before eventually becoming the school’s AD.

Hart left Greenville in 1995 to take charge of the athletic department at Florida State. He also spent time at Alabama before moving to Tennessee. In 2008, he received the James J. Corbett Memorial Award from the National Association of College Directors of Athletics for his years of service to intercollegiate athletics.

“I feel honored to be in a position to assist East Carolina University in the role of a special adviser to Chancellor Staton on athletics matters,” Hart said. “ECU is a very special place to Pam and me. We have many great memories of the community, the people and the passion that surrounds East Carolina.”

Compher’s contract was bought out for $1.26 million by ECU’s Board of Trustees last Friday after a contentious tenure as the Pirates’ AD. His departure comes less than a year after he was given a five-year extension and a raise.