Appalachian State unveiled the “A Mountaineer Impact, A Drive for Excellence” project on Tuesday in hopes of raising $60 million over a six-year period for facility enhancements and benefits for student athletes.
Currently, less than half of athletic scholarship funding is provided by The Yosef Club, athletic’s revenue and student’s fees, which will increase from $735 to $755 next academic year.
The proposal will be dependent on increasing Yosef Club membership to 10,000 and basing donations off of an endowment program where donors will receive recognition on facility plaques if they donate a minimum of $25,000 through either three annual payment plans differentiating in recognition cases: $25,000-$100,000, $100,000-$1,000,000 and over $1,000,000.
A press release from App State Athletics said there is a need to develop a sustainable funding model.
The project will fund building a field hockey stadium locker room, a baseball batter’s eye, a volleyball locker room, a weight room in Holmes Convocation Center, an indoor tennis facility, a softball hitting facility, a men’s and women’s soccer complex, a track complex, and multiple improvements to student-athlete experiences, like travel arrangements or the multi-purpose student-athlete north end zone facility that will also be a part of the Kidd Brewer stadium expansion.
All these renovations are not necessary, but they are all understandable for Appalachian State’s growing athletics program spearheaded by Director of Athletics Doug Gillin.
Gillin should be commended for aggressively making sure each sport is supported by the department evenly with football looking down on the 19 other varsity sports.
But before he receives praise, there must first be mention of the 2,500 square foot video board, the largest of the Power Five schools, and the center-hung video display with a convex curvature being installed in Kidd Brewer and the Holmes center respectively.
The video boards were part of an initiative, also launched by Gillin, called the Go Fight Win campaign, and will be the first completed investments which are proposed to be done in the fall.
Football’s board, containing the same 13HD technology as the Carolina Panthers, is a completely non-conservative investment, especially for a program that entered FBS play three years ago and should first expand the stadium or, more importantly, focus more on providing full scholarships to their players.
Convocation’s four-sided, 1,200 square foot total display is even more wasteful since the Appalachian State basketball team, and even the much more successful and deserving volleyball team, does not get enough attendance for this investment to be useful. It’s also worth pointing out that this display is so unnecessary that only two other universities in the country have one.
As a program that hasn’t surpassed a .500 season in seven years gets awarded with outrageous commodities, and the young, growing ones receive necessities in order to succeed, our wrestling team is still practicing and competing in Varsity Gym, a going-on 50-year-old building. They have been easily one of the most, or arguably the most, nationally successful athletics programs to come from Appalachian and aren’t even mentioned on the list of future endeavors.
Even when the money is only just planned, the priority of investments seems to still place the football program number one in the athletics department hierarchy. Until that favoritism is no longer practiced through frivolous expenditures, this plan will have no Mountaineer impact.
Angelo Errico is a senior journalism major from Charlotte, North Carolina.