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ECU gives Lebo extension as basketball coach

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GREENVILLE, N.C. ­­––– East Carolina University has announced a two-year extension of head men's basketball coach Jeff Lebo's contract that will now secure his position through the 2020-21 season. The new agreement, approved by the University's Board of Trustees and announced by ECU Director of Athletics Jeff Compher Monday, extends Lebo's existing contract to April 15, 2021.

                During Lebo's nearly four years at the helm of the program, he has guided ECU to a multitude of firsts. Last season he directed the program's first 20-win season at the Division I level, guided the team to its first-ever postseason championship and coached the Pirates to their only winning Conference USA record.

                Lebo reached 60 victories faster than any other coach in the 81-year history of ECU basketball and recently became the second-fastest to 70 wins with the Pirates' 75-68 triumph over Louisiana Tech this past Thursday. His 71 victories also currently rank third among Pirate coaches.

                Those victories also represent the most successful four-year period in East Carolina's Division I history and second-most wins during that time frame overall. The Pirates won 75 games from 1952-56.

                Despite an assortment of personnel losses and injuries, the Pirates are 15-13 this season and in position to record back-to-back winning campaigns for the first time since having four straight from 1993-97.

                He is the first coach in school history to win 15 or more games each of his first four seasons and only the second overall to have four consecutive 15-win campaigns.

                "ECU and Greenville are home," Lebo said. "My family and I feel blessed to be at such a wonderful place. It is the people who truly make a place special and I couldn't be surrounded with better players, staff and administration. I would like to express special appreciation to Chancellor Steve Ballard, Director of Athletics Jeff Compher, Executive Associate Athletics Director Nick Floyd and Athletics Director Emeritus Terry Holland. I greatly appreciate the faith and support they've shown me since my arrival at ECU."

                Lebo also cited the recent addition of the Smith-Williams Center, the Pirates' new practice facility, which opened its doors last August, as another testament to the commitment that has been made for basketball success East Carolina. The center, completed at a cost of $17 million, will be funded entirely through private gifts.

                East Carolina finished the 2012-13 season with a record of 23-12, capped off by winning the CollegeInsiders.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) in dramatic fashion. They finished the C-USA regular season with a 9-7 mark and earned the program's first-ever bye into the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.

                Lebo instructed the Pirates to their second-highest winning percentage (.657) in 49 years of Division I basketball last season, earning final RPI ranking of 67, its first-ever inside the top 100.

                Out of 345 NCAA Division I teams, ECU ranked second in assists per game in 2012-13 with 17.2, while finishing 16th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.36) and 18th in scoring (76.5).

                "This contract extension is a strong statement of support and commitment for Coach Lebo and our men's basketball program," Compher said. "We believe Coach Lebo is well on his way of transforming our program and it could not be happening at a more important time as we transition into the extremely competitive American Athletic Conference. He has brought balance to East Carolina Basketball with a championship mindset, both on the court and in academic achievement."

                Lebo was named East Carolina's 23rd head basketball coach on March 22, 2010 and quickly began to establish a culture of winning. In his first season, the Pirates won 18 games, an improvement of eight games over the previous year, to give the program its first successful season in 14 years and its first postseason invitation in 18 years.

                He orchestrated the Pirates' initial Conference USA tournament victory in 10 years with a first round win over UCF before directing his team to a quarterfinal upset of top-seeded UAB to reach the semifinals. It was the first time since 1996 that ECU had won a conference tournament game.

                A year later, ECU advanced in the conference tournament again by defeating seventh-seeded Rice in the first round before falling to second-seeded Southern Miss in overtime.

                Increasing attendance figures and fan support has enabled Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum to become a hostile environment for opponents under Lebo. The Pirates are 47-22 (.681) at home the past three-plus seasons, which included a 17-4 mark a year ago. The CIT semifinal game against Evansville was the arena's first sellout since 2007.

                Under his tutelage, five players have earned All-Conference USA honors and two have been named to all-district squads. Maurice Kemp became the first ECU player since Blue Edwards to lead a conference in scoring last season, while Miguel Paul became the school's first repeat All-Conference USA selection, leading the league in assists for a second-straight years.

                With his guidance, the Pirates have set single-season program records for wins, points, 3-point field goals, assists and steals. Each of his first four teams rank among the top six in 3-point field goals made during a single season at ECU with three teams in the top seven in assists and his second and third teams occupying the first two spots on the steals chart.

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