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Athletic growth could change campus culture

By Todd Brison
On May 1, 2013

I suppose it's only fitting that my last article ended up in the sports section.
It's terribly tempting to write something here like "I remember when I first..." or "It's been such a long time coming to this point in my life." But frankly, those things are boring, they are cheesy, and they will not be found here in this article. (Instead, we can set up a meeting to discuss my awesome. My fee is relatively small.)
Rather than put on my graduation goggles and reminisce about my time at the ET,  I'd like to take a look back at Buc sports as a whole and how they've changed, or at least how I've perceived them to change, over the last four years.
First of all, I'd like to comment on how under appreciated I think this athletic program is as a whole. We've had some ugly moments, but in general, ETSU has been fairly successful over the last few years.
Let's look at the men's tennis team that's just won its SEVENTH conference title in a row. Let's look at the golf team, who is consistently competing on a national level and cranking out professionals. Or what about the men's soccer team that was birthed only a few years ago, but is already pulling into little Johnson City teams like Clemson, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina. And these games weren't just for show, they were competitive. They were fun to watch. What about the track team? They've got student-athletes with some of the best stories around.
The fact that our basketball games were less than glamorous (and by that I mean a licorice and sardine flavored jelly bean level of awful), I honestly don't see that lasting. They'll improve. Hopefully, they'll be able to roll on the momentum created by a monstrous gold and navy gorilla that I've failed to mention up until now:
Football.
During an SGA conversation about reinstating the program in January, ETSU president Brain Noland said "without football, we may go down."
At the time I wasn't really sure what he meant by that. It seems to me that, if we're going to stick with the ship metaphor here, starting a football program from scratch could be a pretty efficient way to cause a university to sink.
I can't even touch the financial implications of this team. Many teachers have expressed their frustration about getting paid so little by a university which has now chosen to spend an incredible amount of money on athletics. And I get that, I was raised two instructors, and we didn't exactly live a lavish lifestyle.
Teachers are paid a pitiful amount considering the service they provide, and that's a task which needs to be tackled by the whole country, not just east Tennessee.
All that being said though, I'll guide this wandering balloon of a tangent back down to Earth though and say I am fully in support of the future football team.
Noland has indicated the program will start small and slow, and that encourages me. The head coach will have an entire year to plan with no pressure of winning, and after that, he'll have a year of JV to experiment.
Although I am a man who likes his routines, I'm learning that change is necessary for growth. This program could be what it takes to change ETSU from a suitcase college to a university people love to come home to, a school we can be glad to graduate from.
I believe that's what it deserves.


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