GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The Voice of the Pirates has sadly been silenced.
Jeff Charles, who has been East Carolina University football, men’s basketball, baseball and other sports on radio and television for three decades, passed away on Friday of a medical incident. He was 70.
WNCT’s Brian Bailey reports he was with the men’s basketball team in New Orleans for Saturday’s game with Tulane when he died. He was first attended to by ECU trainers and then by emergency personnel at the scene. He died shortly after.
East Carolina University announced the news Friday night on its ECUPirates.com website. Saturday’s game in New Orleans with Tulane has been postponed, ECU announced. The team was scheduled to travel back to Greenville on Saturday.
Charles was deemed “The Voice of the Pirates.” He had called games with the Pirates since 1988. Back in early January, in a conversation with WNCT’s Courtney Layton, he talked about how he came up with the slogan “You can paint this one purple” after an ECU victory early in his career.
It’s obviously stuck.
He also celebrated his 1,000th game called at ECU on Jan. 4 against Central Florida. He called 15 of ECU’s 21 football bowl games.
On social media Friday, tributes to Charles poured in from all over the country.
He came to ECU after similar stints at Furman, Illinois and Virginia Tech. According to his bio at ECUPirates.com, he was named North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association in 2000 and 2014. In 2015, he was recognized as an honorary alumnus by ECU.
He also worked as sports director at WSB in Atlanta and hosted a nighttime sports talk show that could be heard in 38 states and Canada.
A Piqua, Ohio native, Charles was a graduate of the Career Academy of Broadcasting School of Columbus, Ohio and received a degree in speech communications from Goshen (Ind.) College in 1975.