GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — East Carolina has turned to former Auburn coach Jeff Lebo to lead its long-struggling men's basketball program.
The school announced Monday it had hired Lebo to replace Mack McCarthy, who spent three seasons on the sideline for the Pirates before stepping down to take a fundraising job in the school's athletics department. Lebo had spent the past six seasons at Auburn, going 96-93 overall before he was fired earlier this month.
The 43-year-old coach played at North Carolina under Dean Smith in the late 1980s and had coached at Tennessee Tech and Chattanooga previously.
The school has scheduled a news conference for Lebo on Tuesday.
Lebo inherits a difficult job at East Carolina, a Conference USA school located in the shadows of instate Atlantic Coast Conference programs Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State. The program hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since making a surprise run to win the Colonial Athletic Association tournament in 1993 and hasn't had a winning record since the 1996-97 season.
In the years since, East Carolina has reached .500 once and compiled a 141-230 record.
Lebo had a strong start to his head coaching career, taking over a Tennessee Tech program in 1998 that was coming off four straight losing seasons. Two years later, Tennessee Tech had its first 20-win season in a half-century, then won 27 games and reached the NIT in 2002.
Lebo then headed to Chattanooga and won 40 games in two seasons before taking over at Auburn for the 2004-05 season. But he went just 35-61 in Southeastern Conference play while the team's 2009 NIT appearance was his only postseason trip there.