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March 16, 2005

GREENVILLE, N.C. – Ricky Stokes has been appointed head men’s basketball coach at East Carolina University, director of athletics Terry Holland announced during a Wednesday afternoon press conference at the Murphy Center.

Stokes, who has played an active role on coaching staffs which have made nine NCAA Tournament appearances since 1991, including two Sweet Sixteen and one Elite Eight showings, will officially end a two-year assistant coaching position on the South Carolina staff effective at the conclusion of the Gamecocks’ participation in the 2005 National Invitational Tournament (NIT).

Stokes, 42, will become East Carolina’s 21st head men’s basketball coach in the school’s all-time history and directly succeed Bill Herrion, who recorded a 70-98 record in six years guiding the Pirates’ program.

“Ricky has spent his whole life proving that it does not matter what your size may be or what other people think, as long as you believe in yourself and do things the right way,” said Holland. “Two Final Fours and the Francis Pomeroy Naismith Award as the nation’s top collegian under six feet as well as his work in helping to build nationally competitive programs at four different institutions as a coach clearly show that his approach brings success for everyone involved.”

A 13-time NCAA Tournament veteran and two-time Final Four contributor as both a player and assistant coach, Stokes also arrives at East Carolina with four years of head coaching experience – directing Virginia Tech’s growth and competitiveness from the Atlantic 10 Conference (1999-2000) to the Big East Conference (2000-2003) while guiding the Hokies to 46 victories.

Stokes recruited the core of this season’s Virginia Tech team, which finished in fourth place in the Atlantic Coast Conference and received a bid to the NIT under first-year head coach Seth Greenberg, who was voted 2005 ACC Coach of the Year.

“Building a program is a process and there’s no doubt that the foundation Ricky laid has enabled us to enjoy the success we have now,” stated Greenberg. ” Ricky Stokes is a great person and a great evaluator of talent. Successful players in our program today, like Carlos Dixon and Coleman Collins, are here because of his recruiting efforts.”

After completing an illustrious playing career at Virginia, which included three consecutive ACC championships and four straight NCAA Tournament appearances, Stokes initiated his full-time coaching career with a one-year stay at Bowling Green (1988-89) before joining Dave Odom’s first staff at Wake Forest in 1989.

“Ricky’s ability to identify and relentlessly pursue quality student-athletes very much mirrored his own playing style,” said George Mason head coach Jim Larranaga, who coached Stokes at UVa and hired him as an assistant coach at Bowling Green. There’s no doubt in my mind that his experiences at Virginia Tech will only make him a better head coach in the future, thus East Carolina needs to be congratulated for recognizing that.”

During his eight seasons in Winston-Salem, Stokes was credited with recruiting and/or coaching notables such as 1997 College Player-of-the-Year Tim Duncan and NBA first-round picks Randolph Childress and Rodney Rogers. In addition, he was also responsible for the recruitment of McDonald’s All-America center Loren Woods and 1997-98 ACC Freshman-of-the-Year Robert O’Kelley. Stokes’ expertise in tutoring and developing stellar guard play was evident in the success of All-America honoree Childress and fellow backcourt mates Marc Blucas, Derrick McQueen, Anthony Tucker, Rusty LaRue, Tony Rutland and Jerry Braswell.

During Stokes’ eight-year stay at Wake Forest, the Demon Deacons advanced to the NCAA Tournament seven times, which included an Elite Eight appearance in 1995-96 and a pair of Sweet Sixteen nods in 1992-93 and 1994-95.

“I am very happy for Ricky Stokes, his family and East Carolina University,” said Odom. “Ricky’s departure from our staff leaves a void that will be difficult to fill. Personally, I could not be happier for Ricky as he has worked hard to earn this opportunity and I know I appreciate what a fine coach and person he truly is.”

Stokes returned to his alma mater, accepting an assistant’s position at Virginia under former college teammate Jeff Jones during the 1997-98 campaign before joining Rick Barnes’ staff at Clemson just two weeks before Barnes’ accepted the head coaching position at Texas. He followed Barnes to Austin, where he spent the 1998-99 season as associate head coach and played an integral role in helping the Longhorns to a 19-13 overall record, a 13-3 Big 12 Conference mark, which included the school’s first-ever basketball league title, and a NCAA first-round showing. Despite his relocation to an unfamiliar Southwest geographic area, Stokes’ relentless recruiting efforts resulted in the signing of three of the top10 players in the state of Texas during the fall signing period.

During his memorable playing career at Virginia, Stokes played in a school-record 134 consecutive games and helped lead the Cavaliers to a 109-25 (.813) overall mark and a 43-13 (.768) ACC record en-route to three straight league championships (1980-81, 1981-82 and 1982-83). As a freshman in 1980-81, he played point guard for UVa’s Final Four squad which also marked the beginning of four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. In fact, the Cavs earned the No. 1 tourney seed in each of the last three years of the Ralph Sampson Era (1980-83).

Despite Sampson’s departure, Stokes sharpened his leadership skills even more as the program’s co-captain and guided Virginia to the Final Four in Seattle, Wash., despite finishing fifth during the ACC’s regular season schedule. He was rewarded for his determination and play, earning the Virginia Basketball Leadership Award and, on the national level, was honored with the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, which is presented annually to the country’s finest player under six-feet tall.

Off the court, Stokes was also recognized for his contributions to the university as he earned the honor of residing on The Lawn and was selected to the prestigious IMP Society.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Virginia in 1984, Stokes served as a graduate assistant coach for the Cavaliers in 1984-85 before entering private business for two years. He remained involved in coaching as an assistant at alma mater Highland Springs (Va.) High School in Richmond while completing requirements for a master’s degree in counselor education at nearby Virginia Commonwealth in 1988.

He and wife Karen are the parents of a daughter, Sydney (8).

In addition to accepting the Pirates’ top basketball job, Stokes also quickly filled one of his staff positions by appointing successful former Chattanooga and Virginia Commonwealth head coach Mack McCarthy as ECU’s Associate Head Coach.

Prior to rebuilding the VCU program which he capped with a 21-11 mark in 2001-02, McCarthy led Chattanooga to unprecedented heights during his 12-year tenure, guiding the Mocs to five NCAA Tournament and two NIT appearances.

McCarthy, 52, compiled a 309-177 (.636) record in 16 years as a head coach, including 14 winning seasons and eight 20-win campaigns. He posted a four-year slate of 66-55 at Virginia Commonwealth from 1998 to 2002, where he also served as associate head coach for one season (1997-98) under Sonny Smith before being elevated to the head coaching position.

While at Chattanooga, McCarthy led the Mocs to a 243-122 (.666) record from 1986 to 1997 and was named Southern Conference Coach-of-the-Year three times (1986, 1992 and 1993). He left the SoCon as the winningest coach in league history, racking up seven 20-win seasons, eight conference regular season titles and five tournament championships.

He enjoyed his finest season in 1996-97, leading UTC to 24 overall wins and NCAA Tournament triumphs over Georgia and Illinois to help the Mocs reach the Sweet Sixteen for the only time in school history.

Before taking over the Chattanooga program, McCarthy served as an assistant coach to Smith at Auburn from 1978-85, playing a key role in the development of future NBA stars Charles Barkley, Chris Morris and Chuck Person. He also served stints on the staffs at East Tennessee State and Virginia Tech.

McCarthy followed his stay at VCU by serving as a television analyst for ESPN and hosting a daily radio show in Chattanooga called “On the Road With Mack McCarthy” for two years before accepting an assistant coaching position on the Georgia Tech women’s basketball staff in May, 2004.

McCarthy earned his bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech in 1974 before adding a master’s degree from his alma mater in 1976. He and wife Jean are the parents of a daughter, Lindsay.