For the second time in his career, Joe Dooley has been hired as East Carolina’s basketball coach.
Nineteen years after ending his first four-year tenure with the Pirates and after five straight 20-plus win seasons at Florida Gulf Coast, Dooley has agreed to terms on a five-year contract to return Greenville. The deal was formally approved by ECU’s Board of Trustees at a meeting Wednesday afternoon.
Dooley’s total compensation package will be around $900,000, with nearly half of that coming in the form of base salary and the rest split between Pirate Club promotion work and broadcast responsibilities through IMG. That total is similar to what Lebo was scheduled to make this season.
The 52-year-old New Jersey native succeeds former coach Jeff Lebo, who resigned on Nov. 29 just six games into the 2017-18 season, and his interim replacement Michael Perry. He will be formally introduced as the Pirates next coach
“Joe’s history with the ECU community and the success he’s had as a coach on and off the court will be a great asset for our men’s basketball program,” Chancellor Cecil P. Staton said in a statement. “Not only is he a great recruiter and a great basketball coach, but he also understands the importance of connecting with our alumni, fan base, student body, faculty, and community at large.
“He also gives proper priority to the academic success of student-athletes. I am delighted to welcome him back to Pirate Nation.”
Dooley was the youngest head coach in NCAA Division I when he took over the ECU job following the departure of Eddie Payne in April 1995. He was Payne’s top assistant and was a member of the staff that led the Pirates to a CAA title and their most recent NCAA tournament bid in 1993.
ECU won 17 games in each of Dooley’s first two seasons on the job and finished with a 57-52 record under his leadership. His .523 winning percentage is still the best in school history among coaches in its Division I era.
After being fired in 1999 in what was considered a questionable move at the time, the Dooley went on to gain a reputation as one of the nation’s best recruiters as an assistant to Bill Self at Kansas. He spent 10 years with the Jayhawks, including their national championship season of 2008, before coaching FGCU to the postseason in all five of his seasons, including two NCAA tournament appearances.
Dooley’s final record with the Eagles was 114-58 (.663). He won a pair of Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year awards and is one of only 35 NCAA Division I coaches over the last five years with a winning percentage of over 66 percent and more than 110 victories.
He was a finalist for the UNC Wilmington job that eventually went to C.B. McGrath last year and has been at or near the top of ECU’s list of candidates almost from the moment the job came open. Dooley was also reported to be a candidate for the job opening at Rhode Island.
“The personal and professional decision I made was not an easy one,” Dooley said in a statement released by FGCU. “We have accomplished something very few teams in the country have over the past five years here in Dunk City and I have no doubt the successes you have witnessed this decade will continue for many more to come. However, this opportunity is in the best interest of my family.”