At 10:47 a.m. local time Monday, East Carolina formally announced Jon Gilbert as its next athletics director.
In his first four minutes on the job, Gilbert made his first hire. At 10:51 local time, East Carolina hired Mike Houston as ECU's next football coach. Here reads the ECU press release:
Mike Houston, who guided James Madison to successive NCAA FCS Championship Game appearances and one national title, has been named head football coach at East Carolina University according to an announcement Monday by ECU Director of Athletics Jon Gilbert.
Obviously, both hires have been in the works for days now. Gilbert was rumored to leave his post as Southern Miss's AD for East Carolina for weeks, and the Houston hiring was pre-ordained last week after ECU fired Scottie Montgomery in an event to prevent Houston's imminent hiring at Charlotte. Charlotte later cancelled its offer to Houston, and James Madison announced over the weekend that Houston was leaving.
A North Carolina native, Houston is 80-25 in eight seasons as a head coach. He led Lenoir-Rhyne to a 29-8 mark in three seasons, including three South Atlantic Conference championships and a berth in the Division II National Championship in 2013. That success led him to The Citadel, where Houston was 14-11 with a SoCon title in 2015.
He took over at James Madison in 2016, after Everett Withers left for Texas State, and immediately led JMU to its second FCS national championship. The Dukes reached the title game again in 2017 and in total went 37-6 (including a sparking 22-2 mark in CAA play) in Houston's three season.
James Madison was 9-4 in 2018 & was eliminated in the second round of the FCS playoffs on Saturday, allowing Houston to leave for East Carolina.
“I am so pleased to welcome Mike Houston, his wife, Amanda and their two boys to the East Carolina family,” Gilbert said. “Mike has worked his way up the coaching ranks and has a track record of success at every program he has led.
“Mike made it perfectly clear to me this is the job he covets and he fully understands the tradition and prestige of Pirate football. He is a man of high integrity, a great communicator and believes in molding student-athletes on and off the field. He’s going to be a great asset to our university and the Greenville community. I know he can’t wait to get started and he and his staff will work tirelessly to get the Pirates back on a path to success.”
Houston takes over a program that was a power in Conference USA but has struggled since moving up a weight class to the American. In four years of AAC membership, the Pirates are 22-39 with four straight losing seasons.
Houston's contract is five years, beginning at $1.3 million, rising to $1.67 million in year five reports Stephen Igoe of 247.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.