Department of Athletics releases Strategic Plan

Joshua Farmer

Editor’s Note: The following is the first in a four-part series about the new Strategic Plan for Appalachian Athletics

The Appalachian State Department of Athletics released its Strategic Plan for 2013, which highlights the “App State Experience” and the departmental culture that went into effect in fall of 2012.

“The purpose of constructing a Strategic Plan was to address our strengths and weaknesses and prioritize our goals going forward,” Athletic Director Charlie Cobb said. “It goes hand-in-hand with the recommendations outlined by Athletics Feasibility Committee in 2011.”

The “App State Experience” was defined as how the department would enhance the best possible academic, athletics and social experiences for the student athletes. The Department of Athletics came up with five goals to reach.

The first goal, according to the plan, is to create programs to give academically at-risk student-athletes the tools for success in college. A summer bridge program is required for those admitted to the Academic Review Committee on “full athletics aid and evaluate need for those on partial aid,” according to the plan.

The next goal is to educate coaches and student-athletes on conduct, travel and nutrition expectations.

Athletics will randomly drug test 40 percent of each team annually, requiring a working knowledge of the Student-Athlete Code of Conduct.

They will also make sure student-athletes are eating right by recommending the coaches to meet with a nutritionist prior to each season and improving campus meal plan options for select student-athlete groups, according to the plan.

The next three goals were to bring all 20 teams closer and make them a “family”; enhance the life skills program, mentoring and developing; and a first-year class for student-athletes that promotes responsibility and expectations.

The next section of the Strategic Plan is Appalachian’s current and future culture.

The goals were outlined to promote the four cornerstones of a successful athletics department, which are commitment to sportsmanship, rules compliance, equity and diversity, according to the Strategic Plan.

The Champions Love Appalachian State Spirit, or CLASS Program, highlights the sportsmanship cornerstone. Ongoing since Fall 2012, the department has introduced CLASS at orientations, freshmen welcomes and other programs that target first-year students on campus.

The NCAA manual will be downloaded on all athletics staff computers for access and review to ensure that Appalachian stays within compliance of NCAA rules and regulations, according to the plan.

The culture cornerstone of equity has two goals. The first goal is to “meet and exceed the annual scholarship funding for all sports” and to meet the “Title IX proportionality prong for gender equity compliance,” meaning the Athletics Department is planning to “increase the number of female student-athletes proportional to the male student-athletes” and manage the rosters accordingly with an experienced equity consultant, according to the Strategic Plan.

The final goal of the culture section is to develop annual programming for the entire athletics department on diversity and inclusion.

The athletics department has plans to “continue to be a campus leader in the recruitment of students from underrepresented populations or diverse backgrounds,” according to the plan. They will also plan to increase retention and graduation of student-athletes from that same group.

Cobb said the Strategic Plan would allow the department to turn some shortcomings into strengths.
“We feel that the Strategic Plan gives Appalachian athletics a blueprint to follow to sustain the success we’ve enjoyed in the past, while turning some of our shortcomings into strengths in the future,” Cobb said.

Story: JASON ASHLEY, Sports Reporter