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George L. Bright takes over Elizabeth City State athletics

His first day as AD was Tuesday

Bright_George2018

Elizabeth City State (ECSU) athletic director George L. Bright

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By Malcolm Shields
Sports Editor

Sunday, August 5, 2018

George L. Bright is ready to make an impact.

With more than two decades of experience working in college athletics at the NCAA Division I and Division III levels, Bright will now try to help guide Elizabeth City State athletics back to experiencing success both on and off the field.

Bright was named ECSU’s athletic director on July 24 and officially took over ECSU athletics on Tuesday.

He takes over the ECSU athletic department from Derrick Johnson, who was fired in April after nearly three years at the helm.

When the position was posted during the late spring, Bright told The Daily Advance on Thursday that ECSU was an attractive opportunity.

“I always had the passion, the desire, the interest in working at a place like Elizabeth City State University,” Bright said.

Bright noted that he had a wonderful opportunity bonding with ECSU interim chancellor Karrie Dixon during the interview process.

“I’m really excited to work under her tutelage and, of course, with this department,” Bright said.

Before Bright was tapped to lead ECSU athletics, he was the athletic director and Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania from September 2015 until March 2017.

Bright acknowledged that he stepped down as athletic director at Moravian.

According to a report by The Express-Times (Pa.) and LehighValleylive.com, Bright submitted his resignation on March 6, 2017.

Bright said that he learned a lot during his time at Moravian — a NCAA Division III school.

“It was a great run. I had the opportunity to see some teams compete and win some championships, had some opportunities to do some nice facility work there,” he said. “I had some opportunities to start with leadership development of our student-athletes and build good relationships with coaches.”

During his transition into leading ECSU’s athletic department, Bright credited Claudie Mackey, who served as ECSU’s interim athletic director from Johnson’s ouster in April to July 30, with providing him with guidance.

“It’s wonderful to have a person like Claudie Mackey accessible and reachable,” he said.

Bright noted the wealth of knowledge that Mackey has for the university.

“I’m thankful for his support of me and, of course, I will certainly support him as much as we possibly can,” Bright said.

Bright says that he has a simple, but critical list of goals that he wants to achieve while leading the department.

“We want to make sure that our student-athletes are having a high-level academic experience, a high-level athletic experience,” he said. “We want to operate at a high level with operational integrity and character. Who we are is important. Certainly our goal is to do some postseason play. We want to win some championships.”

In his couple of days at the head of the department, Bright acknowledged that he has received positive feedback from coaches.

“They are warm and embracing to me and are certainly excited about new leadership here and want to move forward,” Bright said.

Bright noted that he as met with most of his coaches and that includes ECSU football coach Anthony Jones.

“I am ready to support him as much as we possibly can,” Bright said.

Entering his second AD job, Bright has a list of items to address.

Near the top of the list is hiring a new men’s basketball coach.

The same day Johnson was let go, ECSU cut ties with John Hill, who served as ECSU’s men’s basketball coach for the 2017-18 season.

Before that, Hill was ECSU’s women’s basketball coach for the 2016-17 campaign.

The process to hire a men’s basketball coach has been on-going before Bright’s arrival to Elizabeth City.

Bright noted that the university’s search committee has reviewed applicants for the position and has a healthy pool of applicants.

“We’re excited about whom we will hire,” he said. “The chancellor and I will have the opportunity to name a men’s basketball coach, hopefully more sooner than later.”

He added that whomever is named men’s basketball coach, the student-athletes will be in good hands.

“Our goal here is that they have a great experience,” Bright said.

Bright added that he appreciates the efforts of Dwayne Saunders, who has served as the program’s interim coach since Hill was let go.

Saunders was an assistant coach on Hill’s staff last winter.

Even with some financial restraints, Bright believes that ECSU can thrive at the NCAA Division II level and in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

“We have a terrific administrative staff. We’ll work with those here internally and those in the administration on campus to make sure we’re supporting our teams at the level where they need to be supported.”

He added that the experience for the student-athlete is a high priority and the department has to work within the budget.

Bright noted the need for the athletic department to engage alumni for additional support.

The resume suggests that Bright has the experience to make the needed changes.

Bright, a graduate of Claflin University, began his career in college athletic administration at South Carolina State University’s ticket office as a manager and was the executive director of the S.T.A.T.E. Club.

His interest in athletic administration began while at South Carolina State and Bright noted that he cut his teeth in athletic administration while at State.

He made the move from South Carolina State to Lafayette College in 1993.

“I had a great opportunity at Lafayette College,” he said.

Bright spent more than 22 years at Lafayette College, a NCAA Division I program, first as an assistant director of athletics and then as the associate director of athletics for 15 years.

He had one of the lead roles in the buildup to the 150th meeting in football between Lafayette and Lehigh in 2014 at Yankee Stadium.

It is that experience that Bright wants to bottle up and bring to ECSU to move the department forward.

“I come to the table with a very strong background in administration,” he said. “I think leadership and certainly management are what’s needed here. I’m certainly here to do that.”

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