Other sports to be affected by move
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Appalachian State’s move to the Sun Belt will have ramifications on more sports than football.
Of course, the main reason for moving to the Sun Belt away from the Southern Conference is because of football. The Mountaineers move from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision, a goal of the program since 2011
But other sports will be impacted. The Sun Belt does not offer wrestling or men’s soccer, two sports that are at Appalachian State.
Athletic director Charlie Cobb was confident that both programs could still stay members of the Southern Conference, where both sports are offered. Appalachian State’s field hockey team is a member of the Nor-Pac Conference, which extends to Stanford.
Southern Conference commissioner John Iamarino said Wednesday that he has talked with Cobb about the two Appalachian State teams participating in the SoCon as associate members. VMI, Campbell, Gardner-Webb and Southern Illinois are already associate members in wrestling.
“Charlie Cobb and I spoke about that on Monday and I told him that I would be receptive to the idea of having them be associate members in those two sports,” Iamarino said. “That’s a decision that the athletic directors will have to make and they have not talked about it. It will be a topic of discussion in the next meeting.”
There is also scheduling of other teams to be considered. Appalachian State’s men’s basketball team hosted three Division I programs — High Point, Presbyterian and Duquesne — in nonconference games during the 2012-13 season. Both High Point and Presbyterian are from the Big South Conference.
ASU’s loss to High Point drew 1,102 fans, the highest attendance of the three games. Neither of the other two games drew more than 1,000.
Appalachian State also hosted NAIA Montreat and Milligan.
“Certainly a huge part of this for us is figuring out how to make men’s and women’s basketball successful,” Cobb said. “How do we draw in the community and how we get teams up here to play.”
Cobb said he has talked with Charlotte athletic director Judy Rose about playing home-and-home basketball games. He also said the subject of playing football games against the 49ers also was discussed.
“Judy and I have talked about it perhaps the last year and a half, frankly,” Cobb said. “Let’s see where we’re both going to be and end up. We’ll give people the opportunity to begin a rivalry. When neighbors who are a Charlotte fan and one’s an Appalachian fan and want to go to games together, I think, frankly, we can help them sell PSLs because that value will be placed on that ticket. Same here. The demand. There are probably 30 people who drove up here who are from the Charlotte area that love Appalachian.”
ASU men’s basketball coach Jason Capel said that having the FBS label next to the football team’s name may allow him to bring other Division I teams to the Holmes Center, but there are other factors involved.
““A lot of those big schools don’t want to play you if they think they’re going to lose the game. In scheduling,” Capel said. “That’s what it’s really about. Having a chance when we’re leaving the league, we want to keep the rivalries that we’ve built with the Southern Conference. We’re going to do our best to keep those alive.
Cobb also said he hopes the fact that the football team will be playing in the FBS will catch the attention of basketball recruits.
“These are parts of the conversation that we’ve theorized about, it you will,” Cobb said. “We’re going to take a short break for spring break, but it’s going to be interesting to see if that can occur.”