The ETSU Department of Athletics recently formed a new strategic plan outlining the years to come for the program.
The plan was put into place this year to reevaluate the athletic program and try to assure the long-term success of the program.
“I think that this strategic plan has been improved a little bit since that last time that we wrote out one,” said Richard Sander, ETSU athletics director. “We have made changes in the program in the past few years, and I think that this will do a good job at laying out our goals for the future.”
According to the new plan, ETSU has budgeted $4,091,000 for athletic scholarships for the 2015-16 year. The 6.1 percent tuition increase means an additional cost of approximately $250,000.
The plan states that the objectives for the university are to grow enrollment to 18,000 students, enhance the quality of student life, increase student retention, engage more in the community and build the ETSU brand, both locally and nationally.
The plan discusses the many changes that were made in the past few years, such as the rebirth of the football team, the men’s basketball moving to Freedom Hall, the women’s basketball team moving to Brooks Gym and the design of the new mascot and logo.
It also discusses the new hires that the athletic program has made in the past few years, including many coaches such as Carl Torbush, Steve Forbes and Brittney Ezell.
In the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis, some of the plan’s strengths were discussed. Among them were regional coverage of athletics, interest in football at an all-time high and athletes performing well in the classroom.
Some of the weaknesses were a decline in enrollment, loss of generation of support for the football team due to the absence since 2003 and perception of ETSU as a suitcase college with a large commuter population.
Many opportunities were mentioned that relate to these new changes.
Some that were listed include the new revenue from the football stadium, a growth in fan base and the desire to be the hometown team for the region.
Some of the threats to athletics mentioned were failure to capitalize on revenue generating opportunities, unwillingness to make the hard decisions and inability to recruit quality student athletes who can maintain good grades.
Some of the strategic themes that are included in the plan are to build the ETSU brand, create significant value to the university and community, build a culture of excellence, strengthen collaboration internally and externally and establish a plan for each sport on campus based on return on investment and the value proposition of the university and community.
“If you look at any other athletic program or organization, what they do is allocate resources based on return on investment and objective, which is pretty much what we did,” Sander said.
The plan also outlines how the athletics department expects players, coaches and administrators to act and what is expected of them in general.
“We wanted to empathsize in the plan what our culture needs to be and what our expectations are from our coaches,” Sander said.
It was stated in the plan that one of the biggest priorities of the athletic department is to provide the necessary resources to the three programs that receive the most media coverage: football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball.
As far as media goes, the outline discusses televising many more games on ESPN3, because research shows that ESPN3 gets more viewers than the SoCon Digital Network.
“I think it was important to establish a culture of playing in big games,” Sander said. “And getting big exposure from television and print outlets such as ESPN and papers like USA Today.”
The plan lays out expectations for all of the teams in the athletic department.
The teams to be vetted are bowling, field hockey, sand volleyball, crew, rifle and women’s lacrosse.
The teams that were provided new facilities in the past 10 years are golf, soccer, softball, baseball and outdoor tennis.
“It’s really not about building new facilities, other than the new football stadium,” Sander said. “But working on the ones that we already have to make them better for the future.”