Pirates’ AD search zeroing in on Southern Miss’ Jon Gilbert

The ECU Board of Trustees will meet on Wedneday, reportedly to approve the contract of its new athletics leader

A statue of Pee Dee the Pirate watches over ECU's Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (Brett Friedlander/North State Journal)

The East Carolina Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, reportedly to approve the contract of a new athletic director.

According to several sources with knowledge of the situation, Southern Mississippi athletic director Jon Gilbert is the expected to be the choice to fill the position that has been vacant since Jeff Compher was asked to resign last March.

Gilbert has ties to ECU special consultant Dave Hart, having served under him as executive senior associate athletic director when the two were at Tennessee. They also worked together previously at Alabama.

Hart, who is leading ECU’s 13-member search committee with chancellor Cecil Staton, had set Dec. 1 as the goal for having a new AD in place. Barring any surprises as Wednesday’s Trustees meeting, where “confidential personnel and legal matters” will be discussed, he’ll beat that deadline by three days.

The timing will allow Gilbert to make an evaluation of the Pirates’ struggling football program and presumably hire his own coach once Scottie Montgomery is fired as expected following Saturday’s season finale at NC State.

Gilbert, who graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne, has been at Southern Miss since January 2017. During his nearly two years in Hattiesburg, he has overseen facility upgrades, added volleyball as the school’s 17th intercollegiate sport, negotiated a multisport apparel deal with Adidas, hired Conference USA’s first full-time nutritionist and seen the second-highest membership in the Eagle Club.