GREENVILLE, Pitt County — East Carolina University has moved fast in the past 24 hours and is expected to announce the hiring of a new athletics director and head football coach, according to multiple reports and sources who spoke with NewsChannel 12.
James Madison University announced Sunday afternoon Mike Houston “will depart the university to accept another coaching opportunity at a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) program.” That opens the door for ECU to formally hire Houston as its next football coach as early as Monday.
ECU Board of Trustees has a scheduled Monday meeting, according to a press release Sunday from the school. The “emergency meeting,” slated for 9:30 a.m., will be held “to hear updates regarding personnel matters and take any related action. The board expects to move immediately into closed session.”
The presumption is the board will approve a contract to make Houston the next football coach. In addition, sources say ECU will name Southern Mississippi athletics director Jon Gilbert as the next AD. He has worked at Southern Miss since 2017.
"We are grateful to Mike Houston, his family and his staff for their commitment to JMU over the last three years," JMU Director of Athletics Bourne said in a press release Sunday. "When we hired Mike, he was the right coach at the right time for our program. He injected energy, he went about his job the right way, he cared about our student-athletes and he won.”
Houston brings a winning track record, going 37-6 in three seasons with the Dukes. This season, the team went 9-4 and advanced to the second round of the FCS Playoffs. JMU went 14-1 in each of his first two seasons with a national championship in 2016 and a national runner-up finish in 2017. JMU won 20 straight Colonial Athletic Association games during four seasons.
The Dukes also defeated ECU 34-14 in 2017 in Greenville. Before coaching at JMU, Houston had successful stops at Lenoir Rhyne and The Citadel.
"The past three years for (wife) Amanda and I and our boys have been nothing short of amazing as far as our experience in Harrisonburg, Virginia and being part of James Madison University,” Houston said. I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to be part of what I believe is a perfect college environment found at JMU.”
Houston will replace Scottie Montgomery, who was at ECU for nearly three full seasons. He was fired Thursday as head football coach after a 9-27 season. ECU had its season end Saturday with a 56-3 loss to N.C. State.
The Pirates open the 2019 season at N.C. State on Aug. 31.
Gilbert served as executive senior associate athletics director at Tennessee from 2011-2017.
ECU has been without an athletics director since the resignation of Jeff Compher back in March. Compher reportedly received a $1.2 million buyout.
Ironically, Gilbert is a graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne and was a three-year letterman on the football team. He was at Tennessee while Dave Hart served as Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics. When Gilbert was hired, Hart had this to say:
Hart is currently serving duties of AD at ECU and has been part of the search committee to find a new AD.