GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) -Former coach Ricky Stokes is leaving East Carolina instead of taking an administrative position in the athletic department, school officials said Thursday.
The move came nearly three weeks after Stokes was removed as coach and reassigned to the newly created position of associate athletic director for basketball. School spokesman Tom McClellan said the new job will be eliminated.
``After considerable review and deliberation by the university and coach Stokes, the parties have mutually agreed that the appropriate way to proceed is to terminate the employment contract between the university and coach Stokes by initiating the 'buy out' clause'' of his contract, said athletic director Terry Holland.
Stokes was reassigned Aug. 8 and assistant Mack McCarthy, the former head coach at Chattanooga and Virginia Commonwealth, was named the acting coach for the 2007-08 season, while assistant coach Chris Ferguson will become acting associate head coach.
The changes came after Holland and the coaching staff held lengthy discussions beginning in the spring. Holland said he believed the staff deserved the chance to stay on and help the program improve, but that he and Stokes also agreed the pressure to win would be tough for the players to handle.
Stokes' two-year tenure was the latest frustrating chapter in the program's dour history. The Pirates have just two NCAA appearances in school history, with the last coming in 1993, and are regularly in the Conference USA basement.
They also have had trouble finding any share of the spotlight in the shadows of Atlantic Coast Conference schools Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State.
Before arriving in Greenville, Stokes spent four seasons coaching Virginia Tech, going 46-69 from 1999-2003. He was a point guard on two Virginia teams that reached the Final Four in the early 1980s under Holland.
The 45-year-old Stokes had a record of 14-44 in two seasons coaching the Pirates. He went 6-24 this past season, with three of those victories coming against Division II teams, and the Pirates lost 23 of 25 games after a 4-1 start.
Stokes had three seasons left on the five-year contract he signed in April 2005, and was set to make $240,000 this season.

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