ECU professor apologizes for inserting flier in student newspaper as April Fools' Day joke

NORTH CAROLINA — A professor will not face charges after he inserted prank fliers in East Carolina University’s student newspaper on April Fools’ Day.

The fliers said the university should engage in illicit tactics to better compete in athletics. The inserts also displayed the paper’s flag, said John Harvey, The East Carolinian’s adviser.

The fliers — printed on white paper — were clearly fictitious and used fake names, Harvey said. They were inserted in approximately 50 copies of the newspaper, which publishes between 5,000 and 9,000 issues twice every week.

“I would consider it theft of services,” Harvey said. “We have had problems in the past with apartment complexes inserting fliers to circumvent our whole advertising process. They’ll have people insert things illegally in our paper. It’s not legal to pick up our newspapers and insert whatever, even if it is a prank.”

After the discovery of the prank, the student newspaper reported the incident to the police and wrote about it.

Randall Martoccia, a professor in the English department, has since come forward and apologized. Campus police Lt. Chris Sutton said police will not pursue further action against the prankster.

“We didn’t feel like the appropriate course of action to take was a criminal charge, and it will be dealt with internally as a personnel issue,” Sutton said.

Martoccia said he didn’t think about the impact the prank would have on the newspaper.

“It really was just a prank. I had my head in April Fools’ rules,” Martoccia said. “I do understand now. I’ve thought about it from the point of the view of the newspaper, and I really would never have done anything like that.”

Martoccia said he does not know if he will be disciplined.

University spokeswoman Mary Schulken said “it would not be appropriate” for her discuss what action, if any, will be taken against the professor, as it is a confidential personnel issue.

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