ECU, Mike Houston agree to tentative terms of new contract

ECU Pirates

GREENVILLE, N.C. — East Carolina University Head Football Coach Mike Houston, who has led the Pirates to their first bowl appearance and winning season since the 2014 campaign, has agreed to tentative terms of a proposed contract that would help secure his position through the 2026 season according to an announcement from ECU Director of Athletics Jon Gilbert Thursday.

WNCT’s Brian Bailey reports it’s basically a new contract that will pay Houston $2.3 million a year, $1.4 million as his base pay and $900,000 in supplemental income from other areas like his radio and television shows. The buyout goes to $2 million and goes down $250,000 per year of the deal.

“It’s truly an honor and privilege to be the head football coach at ECU, and I want to thank Chancellor Rogers and Jon Gilbert for their continued commitment to building a program we can all be proud of,” Houston said. “We have built a solid foundation due to the discipline, determination and work done by our players, coaches and staff. 

“We still have unfinished business, but we are confident we are making strides daily to have a program we can all be proud of. Most importantly, Amanda and I, along with our two boys, love living in this community and being a part of the Pirates family. We look forward to seeing everybody in Annapolis on Dec. 27.”

The Franklin, N.C. native was formally introduced as the Pirates’ 22nd head coach on December 4, 2018 and immediately began a rebuilding process that, in addition to post-season eligibility, has produced notable milestones on offense, defense and special teams in each campaign. Prior to his arrival in Greenville, East Carolina posted four-straight losing seasons, including a trio of three-win campaigns.

In just three seasons, Houston’s focus never wavered from establishing a physical game plan that has resulted in the Pirates’ highest combined rushing average in nearly 15 years and Top 25 rankings in a multitude of categories such as passing yards per game, total yards per game, fourth-down efficiency and time of possession on offense and turnovers forced, fumbles recovered, passes intercepted and third-down efficiency on defense. Additionally, a total of 12 players have earned All-American Athletic Conference honors since 2019 with one also securing AAC Rookie-of-the-Year accolades – a first in program history.

“This is an exciting day for ECU Athletics and the future of our football program,” Gilbert said. “Coach Houston, his staff and our student-athletes have worked tirelessly over the past three years to change the culture and direction of our program.

“As a leader, Mike has handled the adversity that has come our way and never flinched. He has an unwavering commitment to building a football program that will hold student-athletes accountable on and off the field, recruit at a high level, and expects to have sustained success in the AAC. Most importantly, he wants to be a Pirate. Having him lead the Pirates into the future is a major coup for us.”

Houston, 50, owns a 94-44 overall record, a combined six conference championships and a national title in 10 seasons as a collegiate head coach. His acceptance of the ECU position, which included an initial five-year contract, officially ended a three-season tenure as James Madison’s head coach. Houston guided the Dukes to a 37-6 record, which included three NCAA FCS postseason appearances (2016 National Champions, 2017 National Runner-Up, 2018 second round) and a pair of Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championships.

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