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Kelly Hodge

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ETSU Sports

Task force will address facilities, return of football

September 5th, 2012 9:19 pm by Kelly Hodge

A task force that will take an in-depth look at East Tennessee State athletics as part of the Committee for 125 is expected to form in the coming weeks.
Athletic director Dave Mullins said the group’s makeup and scope of its work is still in the planning stages.
“The Committee for 125 met for the first time last week, and they’ll be giving us instructions in the near future about forming task forces in various areas on campus,” Mullins said Tuesday. “We haven’t been given all the details yet, but probably will within the next month, I would say.”
ETSU president Brian Noland said in April that a wide range of issues concerning athletics will eventually be addressed as these task forces take shape in the fall.
Among the hot topics is whether football should be restored at the university, at what level and perhaps a timeline for that to happen. The program was eliminated after the 2003 season.
There are also several facilities issues on the table, and athletics is just one piece of the puzzle. Noland has put a performing arts center and convocation center, which would be home to basketball, high on his priority list.
“We’ve been through our 100-year celebration and have a new president right at the beginning of our second hundred years,” said Mullins. “I think Dr. Noland wants to see where all the various constituents of the university want ETSU to be in 25 years. There will be an overall planning that sets a course for what our priorities are, what our vision is for the next 25 years.”
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Paving has been completed, but the work goes on at Thomas Stadium.
ETSU’s new ballpark had 400 seats installed this summer, and that number is about to triple.
“We actually just started to add close to 800 seats that will get capacity up to 1,200 before the start of next season,” said Mullins. “Phase one is substantially completed. We’ve made a few changes in the last month, some final painting and things like that.”
A high-resolution scoreboard has been on back order but may be delivered this month.
The final phase of the development included a component for retail business, and Mullins said talks have picked up on that front.
“We still have some long-term plans on development of the site,” he said, “and we’ve purposefully left some spaces unpaved so we don’t have to come back and undo what has been done. There’s been interest from several parties about potential business.
“It makes it much more attractive now that folks can see exactly what the stadium looks like, how it’s situated on that corner, the visibility and what the access is. What we’ve been hearing from people is encouraging. Right now the thing to say is that we’re working through the process of gauging interest, and we’ll see where it goes.”
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Heavy rains this summer have left the construction of new outdoor tennis facilities behind schedule. The latest estimate for completion of 12 courts on the west side of campus is late October.
“The crews lost 16 days due to all the rain,” said Mullins. “They’ve completed the heavy grading on the varsity courts site and were still working on the recreational site. They’ve poured peripheral sidewalks, put in the electrical for the lights and laid gravel to build a base for the asphalt.
“It’s going to be really nice. We’re just trying to be patient.”
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The women’s soccer team saw its unbeaten start to the season end with a crash.
The Lady Bucs were routed 7-1 at Middle Tennessee State on Sunday. They trailed 4-0 at the half and things only got worse.
Ramey Kerns scored their lone goal in the 51st minute.
ETSU had matched a program record with four straight victories to open the season. It now turns its attention to a pair of nonconference home games — Western Carolina on Friday and Winthrop on Sunday.
The Atlantic Sun Conference opener is here Sept. 21 against Stetson.
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Outside hitter Megan Devine recorded her 1,000th career kill during a match here Monday night against Marshall.
The junior from Kingsport reached the milestone in the third set of a 3-1 victory in the home opener at Brooks Gym. Devine is the A-Sun preseason player of the year and a big reason why the Bucs are off to a 7-2 start. Their only losses were to South Carolina and Clemson.
The Bucs play this weekend at the Hampton Inn Bama Bash in Tuscaloosa. They’ll face Alabama State and Austin Peay on Friday, and Lamar and Alabama on Saturday.

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