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No. 5 sports story of 2018 | Change occurs within ECSU athletics

Shake up in Viking athletics is No. 5 sports story of 2018

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In this screen capture from Twitter, fans are shown on Virginia State University's basketball court following VSU's game against Elizabeth City State University, Wednesday. VSU officials have apologized for their fans' assault on ECSU players after the game.

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By Malcolm Shields
Sports Editor

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The winds of change hit Elizabeth City State athletics during the past year.

From new coaches to administrators, the athletic department brought in new leadership at different levels.

ECSU athletics is the No. 5 sports story of 2018.

ECSU drew headlines in January when members of its men's basketball team were involved in a brawl with spectators after a basketball game at Virginia State University Jan. 24.

Following the incident, Virginia State took responsibility for the behavior of its spectators towards ECSU's players.

The shake up in athletics leadership began in March when football coach Earnest Wilson was let go after leading the program for two seasons.

Wilson, who was named the 2016 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Football Coach of the Year, led ECSU to a 9-11 overall record.

He would be replaced by Anthony Jones, whose hire was announced in early April.

Around the same time of Jones' hire, ECSU fired athletic director Derrick Johnson and men's basketball coach John Hill.

Johnson had been ECSU's athletic director since May 2015.

While leading the athletics department, every sport had changeover at their respective head coach position.

Hill, who previously served as an assistant basketball coach at ECSU in the 2000s, was the men's head coach for 2017-18 season.

He led the Vikings to a 12-15 overall record last winter.

Hill also coached the women's basketball team during the 2016-17 season.

ECSU would name George Bright its athletic director in late July and in August, Shawn Walker was named men's basketball coach.

ECSU also named Vanessa Faircloth as its volleyball coach.

She took over the program from Steve Halsted, who took the same position at Mid-Atlantic Christian.

Even after a losing basketball season, the men's basketball team saw then freshman Zaccheus Hobbs named the CIAA Rookie of the Year for the 2017-18 campaign in February.

ECSU senior golfer Tyler Futrell was named an all-CIAA performer in April, while ECSU women's basketball player Jalyn Brown scored her 1,000th career point in late November.

The spring of 2018 was the earliest target date for the ECSU baseball program to return.

The baseball program was suspended May 2014.

ECSU baseball did not return this past spring.

In April, then ECSU chancellor Thomas Conway left open the possibility for the sport to return.

Those chances appear to be bleak as the then chancellor noted to The Daily Advance in April that the university would have needed to meet an enrollment figure to support a baseball program on a yearly basis.

According to figures received from ECSU via a public records request, from June 2014 to September 2018, the university received $1,250 in private donations for the baseball program.

ECSU's big three sports of men's and women's basketball with football ended their seasons with losing records.

The ECSU women finished the 2017-18 season with a 9-20 overall record and the football team posted a 1-7 record to end the 2018 season.

As the calendar shifts to 2019, both the men's and women's basketball teams are entering the meat of conference play for the 2018-19 season.

The men hold a 6-7 overall record and are 4-0 in CIAA games, while the women are 7-5 overall with a 2-2 mark in the CIAA.

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