JOHNSON CITY — The departure of Dave Mullins as athletic director left one big gridiron-laden question on the minds of many ETSU alumni and fans.
Is Division I college football coming back to the Tri-Cities?
That question will be answered in the coming months according to ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland and new interim Director of Athletics Dr. Richard Sander, who spoke with members of the media to outline a short-term plan for the department.
The most prominent of recommendations made by Noland’s Committee for 125 on athletics during Judge Kenneth Bailey’s presentation in December, the return of football at ETSU is something that has been discussed vividly by alumni, faculty and students since former president Dr. Paul Stanton decided to cut the program in 2003.
A decision on the sport’s future is something that could impact the school on many levels, including conference affiliation and the overall plan of the university in years to come. It’s something that will be determined by a number of parties starting today when students return to campus.
“Over the course of the next four to six weeks we will have an in depth conversation around football,” Noland said. “We can’t move forward without a conversation involving our university. … We have to start a program from scratch and if that’s the direction the students choose for us to take than we, through the leadership of Dr. Sander, are full steam ahead to position us to initiate a football program at ETSU.”
When discussing football, conference affiliation obviously enters the fray of conversation. Noland said he and Sander are looking at the state of athletics nationwide on a daily basis.