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App State puts football decision on hold
Charlie Cobb says Appalachian State has decided to skip its self-imposed deadline.
Appalachian State likely will delay a decision on whether to move to the highest level in college football — the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Charlie Cobb, ASU’s athletics director, and G.A. Sywassink, co-chairman of the committee evaluating the feasibility of a move from the Football Championship Subdivision, said a recommendation could be delayed beyond the target date of May largely because of state budget issues.
Public universities face large budget cuts, and Cobb and Sywassink said the timing might not be right for a recommendation, although the football team doesn’t receive state money.
“Right now with where the state budget is, a perception is, ‘How are you going to cut programs on campus yet spend more money on football,’” Cobb said.
“We can say all we want about the fact that there is no state appropriation for athletics in North Carolina, but the perception is there.
“Right now we just don’t think we are in a position to meet our own self-imposed deadline.”
The next committee meeting is scheduled for May 20. The committee will continue to study a possible move.
“We have to take into consideration before we move too far ahead what’s happening with the budgetary issues in North Carolina,” Sywassink said.
“The recent House budget that just came out, which is public knowledge, is a 17½ percent cut to Appalachian. They’re talking about huge cuts over the whole university system that would have a dramatic effect on the educational process.
“The climate right now is so up in the air that we’ve got to be very careful about introducing this. We need to take that into consideration before we determine our next step. We are still to determine if it’s wise to make a recommendation or hold off for a period of time. We’re not up against any time barrier. We’ve got the time to do this properly.”
The committee originally planned to make a recommendation this month and forward it to Chancellor Ken Peacock, who then would make his own recommendation to ASU’s board of trustees, probably in June.
“We just don’t feel we’re in position at this moment to make a recommendation to the chancellor, and the feeling is there are just bigger campus issues that need to be addressed,” Cobb said.
Cobb said a deadline for a recommendation isn’t necessary. An NCAA moratorium preventing schools from moving to the top level will be lifted in August, but there is no end date when ASU would have to declare its intentions.
“We created a deadline, but, quite frankly, we need to spend more time evaluating before we feel comfortable giving a recommendation to the chancellor,” Cobb said.
The Mountaineers have become a national power in the second-highest level of college football, the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly Division I-AA.
They have made the national playoffs six straight seasons and won an unprecedented three straight championships in 2005-07. Appalachian also has won six straight Southern Conference titles. If ASU decides to move to the highest level, it would have to leave the Southern, creating a question about conference affiliation. The Mountaineers would need to receive an invitation from a larger conference or play as an independent.
“There doesn’t seem to be the mass movement within conferences that there was last year at this time,” Cobb said. “That’s a part we can’t control. As much as anything, our work is about being prepared for what could occur.”