Florida Gulf Coast head coach Joe Dooley is returning to East Carolina to be the Pirates’ head coach for the second time, according to Greenville’s The Game 94.3 FM. He led ECU from 1995-99, going 57-52 while the program was part of the CAA.
Dooley returns to a much different program, now members of the AAC with the likes of Cincinnati, Memphis, UConn, Wichita State, Houston and others on the schedule regularly. ECU is a tough job, given the extremely competitive recruiting ground and local high-major prospects having offers from nearby ACC schools.
In the years since 1999, Dooley has grown considerably. Ten years working under Bill Self at Kansas propelled him into another head coaching gig, this time at Florida Gulf Coast. Coming off their “Dunk City” shockers in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, Dooley was able to keep things rolling. The Eagles won three Atlantic Sun titles and went to the postseason five times in five years under Dooley (2 NCAA, 2 NIT, 1 CIT).
The East Carolina job will be much different, as Dooley steps into a program that has just one 20-win season ever and now competes in a considerably more difficult league. Jeff Lebo, the coach who led the Pirates to 23 wins in 2013, stepped down six games into last season after going 43-61 since joining the AAC. Interim coach Michael Perry went 8-16 in relief and the Pirates finished 11th in the league, their worst finish yet.