Strategic Plan facilitates leadership development, develops potential ideas

Joshua Farmer

Editor’s Note: The following is the second in a four-part series about the new Strategic Plan for Appalachian Athletics. The first part of the series ran in the Tuesday, Feb. 12 issue. The Appalachian apologizes for the delay.

The Department of Athletics plans to better facilitate leadership development and analyze other athletics enterprises to develop “future potential innovative ideas,” according to the 2013 Strategic Plan.

“We figured that we needed to get our house in order,” Director of Athletics Charlie Cobb said. “We needed to take a look at ourselves internally and say what are our strengths and weaknesses and where we can grow.”

Growing starts by introducing the new “App State Experience.” Athletes, coaches and staff will ensure that there is an open-door policy intertwined between all teams and that the athlete’s welfare becomes the priority to all working parties.

To ensure this requirement is met, all new employees will receive a leadership book that will inform them of the “department’s culture” and the existing staff will attend informational meetings held by the athletic department leadership team, according to the plan. There will be guest speakers for the seminar.

The Department of Athletics will also re-evaluate the workload of the staff and compare it with peer institutions to effectively and efficiently meet departmental goals.

“What’s important to us is figuring out what we are doing well and where we have room to go,” Cobb said. “And not just one specific group, let’s take and analyze the whole department.”

In order to develop potential new programs, the department will look into its fiscal practices.

For the next five years, the athletics department will “project future expenses for scholarships, operating budgets and personnel.”

Key components of this funding include conference realignment, reduction in university support and increased operating costs, according to the plan.

“Part of the decision we make every day is our budget in which we operate on,” Cobb said. “We have to be pretty intentional on how we spend our dollars.”

The Department of Athletics wants to make sure the football program is still prioritized.

To reduce spending, the athletics department will make cheerleading a student organization, no longer covered by the Department of Athletics. Athletics will also identify outside sources to cover expenses for the marching band’s away game travels, game tickets and food.

“The energy that our band and cheerleaders bring to the fans at our home football games in unparalleled,” Cobb said. “It’s not a slap at the band. It’s a slap at us being responsible on how we are paying for this.”

He said both the band and cheerleading programs would not be cut.

“It’s not about cutting anything,” Cobb said. “It’s about trying to find other funding sources. I’d love for the band to go to every away football game. It takes a lot of time for the kids, the staff and a lot of resources to do that.”

This section of the Strategic Plan will help the Department of Athletics manage its budget and spend money responsibly.

“The university is a big animal,” Cobb said. “Athletics is a small piece. We get a lot of publicity because of what we do, but from a financial standpoint, we are a small part of the university budget.”

Story: JAMES ASHLEY, Sports Reporter