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Next step for ETSU football: TBR fee approval

Rex Barber • Mar 9, 2013 at 9:18 PM

Now that the estimated numbers are in for the cost to operate a football program at East Tennessee State University, the necessary fee to start a team must be approved by the Tennessee Board of Regents for the school to move forward with any football plans.

The Finance and Business Operations Committee of the Tennessee Board of Regents, the governing body for ETSU, was scheduled to meet Tuesday in Nashville to consider fee requests from various schools, including the $125 per student per semester fee approved by the ETSU’s Student Government Association in January.

That meeting was postponed due to member scheduling conflicts. A new date has not yet been scheduled, though it should be known by early this week.

This committee must vote on the fee before it goes before the full board for a vote. Any recommendation coming out of a Finance and Business Operations Committee meeting is not the final word.

Keep in mind, the board will not approve ETSU to start a football program; the board only approves, or rejects, the implementation of the new fee.

This fee would be necessary to establish a football program because it would collect about $2.5 million in the 2013-14 school year and then an estimated $2.8 million annually after that, according to documentation from the school that was given to the TBR.

In this documentation ETSU administrators estimated a football program would earn just under $4.5 million each year and cost just under $4.9 million in operating expenses, miscellaneous expenses and gender equity costs by the 2018-19 school year.

A deficit would occur by the time a team is fielded in 2015 and be at a little more than $426,000 by 2018-19. But it would be covered by the student fee.

That fee would have the chance to accrue for a few years because the main expense at first would only be for coaching salaries. This money would be used to cover any deficits that would occur until the program is established.

ETSU Interim Athletic Director Richard Sander has been meeting with many people across the region and coaches across the nation, including former University of Tennessee football coach Philip Fulmer on Friday.

Sander said all these conversations have been intended to glean information on possible coaches, budgets, facilities and every aspect on “trying to start a football program from scratch,” Sander said.

Sander said Fulmer thinks ETSU has a great opportunity to generate excitement and experiences around a football program for students and for people in the region.

“He thinks it’ll be great for our alumni to have a chance to come back and watch football, just to try to do some really good things for this whole area to hopefully get people excited in not only Johnson City, but Kingsport and Bristol and Greeneville and this whole general area, to give them something to really kind of put their arms around and become a part of something that’s fun and cool and neat,” Sander said.

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