ECU suspends Godwin

Published 8:57 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2012

East Carolina head baseball coach Billy Godwin. (WDN File Photo)

GREENVILLE — East Carolina University announced on Tuesday that it will be placing head baseball coach Billy Godwin on suspension without pay starting on Feb. 1 and ending on Feb. 14 due to what the school’s press release called a “department imposed corrective action for a self-reported NCAA violation that involved impermissible housing for volunteer coaches.”
A five-month investigation by ECU’s Office of Athletics Compliance concluded that the four volunteer baseball coaches had received impermissible housing benefits beginning in 2004 when Randy Mazey was the head baseball coach. The practice continued under Godwin who was hired on Oct. 28, 2005 and has complied a 217-138 record as he heads into his seventh season with the program.
“This certainly happened during my tenure but I’m not going to (talk about) before my tenure. It was just a situation that I was aware of and I had no idea it was impermissible,” Godwin said. “My mistake was that I wasn’t as knowledge about NCAA rules as I should be.”
Assistant coach Nick Schnabel will take over coaching duties in Godwin’s absence.
During an informal press conference Godwin continued to own up to the infractions by saying, “I’m responsible for what happened the minute I became head coach here … The reason “because it was going on” is not a good reason because I’m the one who’s the head coach. I’m the one that’s responsible.”
East Carolina athletic director Terry Holland, who was hired in fall of 2004, plead guilty to the same offense as he stated in school’s press release that he also had knowledge of the situation but did not know it was an NCAA violation.
“This wasn’t something that was conceived under the cover of darkness or done covertly. I was aware of the situation and assumed it was a permissible way to perhaps mitigate the financial burden our volunteer coach has without a salary or stipend. A lack of understanding of the rules is not, nor ever will be, an excuse.”
The results of the investigation were sent to the NCAA on Dec. 12, 2011 and the school is still waiting for an official NCAA ruling.
East Carolina is currently serving a one-year probation sentence that was handed down from the NCAA and is scheduled to end on May 18, 2012 after it was found that four baseball players and one female tennis player engaged in academic fraud, a major violation.
Under the direction of Holland, East Carolina took a proactive position in regards to the academic fraud and worked vigorously to help the NCAA with its investigation. As a result, the NCAA vacated 17 baseball games and eight tennis matches but trimmed ECU’s probation period from two years to one.
The school took the same proactive approach in regards to the current infractions and is desperately hoping that the NCAA will look kindly upon it for doing so.
“The NCAA has done a very good job of understanding that the rules are very complex and as long as you’re not trying to gain a competitive advantage of any sort or trying to cover things up they usually work with you pretty well,” Holland said. “Again, because of our previous violation we are very vulnerable right now and we just want to make sure we do everything possible to say that we understand the importance of NCAA rules and following those rules and taking quick actions when we find something wrong … In our particular situation this is very severe and we are taking this very seriously and worked hard with the NCAA to make sure that they understood we were taking this seriously and continue to take it seriously.”
Holland declined to speculate on what he thought the reaction of the NCAA might be.
Aside from suspending Godwin, the school has asked all four coaches to pay back the cost of the improper housing benefits, with the three that served under Godwin having done so already. Also, members of the baseball program and the ECU Educational Foundation have completed ancillary NCAA rules education training and the position of volunteer coach has been suspended for a year retroactively beginning on Oct. 17, 2011.
The Pirates are scheduled to begin the 2012 season on Feb. 17 when they host Milwaukee.