East Carolina Football Coach Ruffin McNeill Addresses PCC College Bound Participants
By Rob Goldberg Jr.
PCC Media Relations
WINTERVILLE—Ruffin McNeill, head coach of the East Carolina University football team, was on the Pitt Community College campus Thursday to speak with high school students participating in the “College Bound: Here We Come” program.
Started in 2007, College Bound is part of PCC’s commitment to removing barriers that may make it difficult for minority males to continue their studies after finishing high school. Through the program, a select group of minority male students from each of Pitt County’s six high schools visit the PCC campus each year to learn more about the college and the importance of higher education.
Dr. Donald Spell, PCC vice president of Student Development Services, said College Bound and associated initiatives at Pitt have combined to significantly improve the college’s recruitment and retention of black males.
This year’s College Bound program, which took place Wednesday and Thursday in the Craig F. Goess Student Center, featured McNeill offering participants some of the same words of encouragement he provides his Pirate players.
Despite a demanding coaching and recruiting schedule, McNeill called the decision to speak at PCC a “no-brainer.” He said he learned from his mother early on that “service is the rent we pay for the privilege to live on this earth” and wanted help out with College Bound in any way he could.
“I wanted to share knowledge and, hopefully, maybe help a young man or the whole group, if possible,” McNeill said. “My mom taught me to give hope and take hope into homes that may not have any hope.”
A Lumberton native, McNeill spoke from the heart, touching on some of the life lessons he learned as a youngster and while playing defensive back for ECU from 1976-1979. He encouraged College Bound participants to always give their best effort and to surround themselves with good people.
The 55-year-old head coach also asked the students to keep in mind the acronym “A-COP,” which he said stands for “attitude,” “confidence,” “organization” and “preparation,” for success in life.
Since taking over as head football coach at his alma mater in 2010, McNeill has led the Pirates to a 29-22 record, including a 37-20 win over Ohio University in the 2013 Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl. Prior to taking the helm at ECU, he led Texas Tech past Michigan State, 41-31, in the 2010 Valero Alamo Bowl.
Following McNeill’s presentation on Thursday, College Bound participants toured the PCC campus and discussed college readiness with staff. They also participated in a “Real Life Market” exercise in which they were given various life scenarios and asked to balance their finances and obligations accordingly.
In addition to McNeill’s appearance this year, previous College Bound events have featured presentations by U.S. Court of Appeals Judge James A. Wynn Jr., Elizabeth City State University Chancellor Willie Gilchrist, former ECU and professional football player Harold Randolph, and Abel Sutton, an ECU graduate and professional public speaker.
A total of 77 students took part in this year’s College Bound program at PCC.