GREENVILLE, N.C. -- East Carolina Coach Ed Emory, fired after a 2-9 season, says he had no idea his football job was in jeopardy and described the dismissal as 'like losing someone you love.'
'I couldn't believe it. I was floored,' Emory said.
'I didn't get any reasons. I could live with anything if I knew why and who. If it's better for ECU and somebody can explain it to me, I can live with that. They took the most cherished thing away from me,' Emory said.
Monday's firing surprised some athletic department officials andthe team, which enjoyed two straight winning seasons (7-4, 8-3) before posting a 2-9 record this year.
University Chancellor John Howell, who met with Emory before abruptly firing him, refused to give a reason for the dismissal. Howell said laws forbidding the disclosure of information concerning personnel decisions prevent him from giving specific actions by Emory that led to his firing.
'I will say that it had nothing to do with his direct record, NCAA infractions, Coach Emory's personal life or any friction within the administration,' Howell said.
'Beyond that, I do not plan to discuss any reasons for our decision.'
There were reports that Athletic Director Ken Karr did not get along with Emory, who compiled a 26-29 record in his five seasons at East Carolina.
'There's no question that it wasn't just the record but I don't know what else it was,' defensive coordinator Tom Throckmorton said. 'I don't think it's a big secret that there were differences between coach Emory and Dr. Karr. Whether things came to a head or not, I don't know.'
'Everybody did like him,' said junior tailback Tony Baker of High Point. 'When we lost him, it was like losing someone in the family.'
Karr said a search will start immediately for Emory's successor.
Among the coaches expected to be considered for the job are Throckmorton; Art Baker, who was the offensive coordinator at East Carolina in 1983; Furman Coach Dick Sheridan, and Larry Beckish, East Carolina offensive coordinator in 1982.
Emory said he turned down three job offers last seaaon and one this year.
'If I had only known this a month ago,' he said. 'The only record I ever wanted to set was to bring a national championship to ECU and be coaching here until I'm 96. It's like losing someone you love. It will get tougher every day.
'I had never been reprimanded or hadn't heard any negative things,' Emory said. 'There wasn't much communication but I had no inkling that something like this was going to happen. Maybe it is enough to go 2-9.'
After the 8-3 season in 1983, Emory's contract was extended through 1987. Emory said the university planned to stand by the terms of his $50,000-a-year contract. Emory would be paid under the contract until he gets another job.
In 1983, the Pirates knocked off North Carolina State and Missouri on the road and lost only to Florida State, Florida and eventual national champion Miami.