It's official: Mike Houston is heading to East Carolina

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — UPDATE (Dec. 3):

The East Carolina University Pirates made it official on Monday, December 3: Coach Mike Houston is leaving James Madison University to come lead their football program in Greenville, North Carolina.

Houston, who made waves across sports media over the past week — starting with a report that he was considering coaching at UNC Charlotte — confirmed over the weekend, after the Dukes' loss to Colgate, that his time coaching in Harrisonburg was at an end.

Late last week, Charlotte withdrew their offer because Houston told their athletic director he was considering other coaching opportunities.

On Monday, ECU Director of Athletics Jon Gilbert announced Houston's acceptance of the head coach position there.

"I am so pleased to welcome Mike Houston, his wife, Amanda and their two boys to the East Carolina family," Gilbert said. "Mike has worked his way up the coaching ranks and has a track record of success at every program he has led."

"Mike made it perfectly clear to me this is the job he covets and he fully understands the tradition and prestige of Pirate football," he continued. "He is a man of high integrity, a great communicator and believes in molding student-athletes on and off the field. He's going to be a great asset to our university and the Greenville community. I know he can't wait to get started and he and his staff will work tirelessly to get the Pirates back on a path to success."

According to a release, Houston signed a 5-year contract and will be formally introduced at a press conference on Tuesday morning at the school.

Houston signed a 10-year contract extension for JMU last December, but, in the end, spent three years in Harrisonburg.

Those years included two appearances at the FCS National Championship, including one victory; two ESPN College GameDay shows; a program-record 26-win streak; two CAA championships; and a 34-14 victory over ECU.

Houston was named the CAA Coach of the Year in 2016.

"I'm delighted Coach Houston is joining Pirate Nation," ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton said. "He brings a winning tradition and high expectations, and we look forward to the coach and his team getting to work."

Before coming to JMU, Houston coached at The Citadel, becoming the only coach in their history to win a Southern Conference championship within his first two seasons.

Houston is a 1994 graduate of Mars Hill University, where he played tight end for the Lions and earned a bachelor's degree in biology.

"There’s only one JMU," Houston said in a farewell statement. "This is a special place and a place that will be hard to ever replicate in future coaching opportunities. I will always have incredible memories of my time here. To JMU Nation, I want to say thank you for the most loyal and passionate support that any coach could ever ask for. My only regret is not getting back to Frisco, Texas this year. I am confident in and believe in the players in this program and look forward to following along next year as they make another incredible run.”

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ORIGINAL STORY (Dec. 2):

Mike Houston plans to leave his position as head coach at James Madison University and sign on at a FBS program, according to a spokesperson with the school's athletic department.

The news comes after the Dukes were eliminated from the playoffs on Saturday in a 23-20 loss at Colgate University.

“We are grateful to Mike Houston, his family and his staff for their commitment to JMU over the last three years,” said JMU's Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne.

Houston led the Dukes to a national championship in 2016.

Houston also released the following statement:

“The past three years for Amanda and I and our boys have been nothing short of amazing as far as our experience in Harrisonburg, Virginia and being part of James Madison University. I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to be part of what I believe is a perfect college environment found at JMU. I will forever be indebted to Jeff Bourne, Vice President Charlie King and President Jonathan Alger for believing in me and handing me the reins to coach the James Madison University football program. There’s only one JMU. This is a special place and a place that will be hard to ever replicate in future coaching opportunities. I will always have incredible memories of my time here. To JMU Nation, I want to say thank you for the most loyal and passionate support that any coach could ever ask for. My only regret is not getting back to Frisco, Texas this year. I am confident in and believe in the players in this program and look forward to following along next year as they make another incredible run.”

This is a developing story. More information will be posted as it becomes available.