Longtime college assistant will finish season

Updated: November 17, 2004, 10:04 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

RALEIGH, N.C. -- East Carolina football coach John Thompson resigned Wednesday but will finish the season, ending his first stint as a head coach after only two seasons.

Since replacing Steve Logan in December 2002, Thompson is 3-18. The Pirates (2-7, 2-5 Conference USA) play Memphis on Saturday, then finish their season Nov. 27 against North Carolina State.

The school scheduled an afternoon news conference, where Thompson was to discuss his resignation. His decision comes about two months after Terry Holland was hired as athletic director at East Carolina, which is in Greenville, N.C.

"The last three-plus years have been ones of turmoil for ECU athletics," Holland said in a statement. "Coach Thompson and his staff literally inherited a 'house divided.' Although they have done everything humanly possible to heal those wounds, the lack of success on the field has made an overwhelmingly difficult healing process virtually impossible."

Holland indicated a search to replace Thompson would begin at the end of the season.

"After these two games are played, we will turn our attention to a search for a new coach," Holland said. "Our first option will be to seek a coach with a successful record at the Division I level."

On Tuesday, Thompson discussed the disappointment of the season and how much he was affected.

"I realize how frustrated and how hurtful this is for the Pirate family and the Pirate nation," he said at his weekly news conference. "I would like nothing more than to be successful for the loyalty and the tradition and the people that have supported this program for so long.

"I wish nothing more for these people to get their wish and for us to be successful. Our team hasn't accepted losing, and they haven't accepted failure. They will not, we will not and I will not."

Thompson was the defensive coordinator at Florida when he was hired to take over for Logan. He has spent 20 years as an assistant at eight schools.

East Carolina lost its first six games under Thompson and finished 1-11 in 2003, then dropped its first four this season. Since then, the Pirates have won two of their past five games, including league wins over Army and Tulane.

The Pirates have struggled on both sides of the ball. They're allowing 466 yards a game -- about 55 yards worse than last year -- and they're last in the conference in total offense.

Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.