After more than 20 years as a college basketball coach and more than a decade as an athletic director, Terry Holland appeared to be winding down. But yesterday, East Carolina announced Holland will leave his job as special assistant to the president at Virginia to be East Carolina's new athletic director.

"I was a little surprised that he was interested," East Carolina Chancellor Steve Ballard said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Holland, 62, will sign a five-year deal today, when he will be introduced on the Greenville, N.C., campus, which is just 80 miles from his home town of Clinton, N.C. He originally offered to help ECU find a successor to Mike Hamrick, who resigned more than a year ago to accept the same job at UNLV.

"However, the more we talked, the more apparent it became to me that I have done my best work [with lots of good help] in building and/or rebuilding programs both as a coach and as an AD," Holland wrote. "It also seemed that I function best under challenging circumstances with clear-cut objectives that require full-time attention."

East Carolina's football program -- its marquee draw -- is coming off a 1-10 season. Its basketball program competes for attention with four ACC programs -- Duke, North Carolina, N.C. State and Wake Forest -- in the same state.

-- Barry Svrluga