Nelson resigns as ECU assistant coach

GREENVILLE, N.C. -- Mark Nelson resigned as an assistant football coach at East Carolina after the school learned of possible NCAA violations concerning his observation of voluntary summer workouts, school officials said Tuesday night.

Athletic director Terry Holland told first-year coach Ruffin McNeill earlier Tuesday that the school's compliance office was investigating concerns that Nelson evaluated players during summer activities, the AD said in a statement issued by the school.

Holland says Nelson met with McNeill, admitted to the violations and offered his resignation as defensive ends coach and special teams coordinator.

"Coach Nelson and Coach McNeill agreed that these violations would be a distraction to the team at this critical time of the year and Coach Nelson offered to step down from his position," Holland said.

Holland said the school will report the violations to the NCAA and will cooperate fully with the governing body. The violations are likely to be classified as secondary, he said.

McNeill said the search for Nelson's replacement will begin immediately, adding that he might reshuffle his staff. The Pirates report Aug. 5 for the start of preseason practice.

"This is certainly an unfortunate development, but integrity will be the foundation of our program," McNeill said. "We are going to comply with the spirit and letter of NCAA rules at East Carolina. I expect my players to do the right thing ... and I demand my coaches to do the same. As head football coach, failure to comply with NCAA rules will not be tolerated."

Nelson has 23 years of coaching experience at the professional and college levels. In 2009, he was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers.