The Appalachian State Mountaineers are in talks to join Conference USA, ASU Director of Athletics Charlie Cobb has confirmed.
Appalachian State has been a member of the Southern Conference in the Football Championship Subdivision since 1971. There they have won three national championships (2005-07) and won or shared the Southern Conference championship 11 times.
In a release dated May 8, 2012, Cobb wrote:
“Potential membership in Conference USA is one of the scenarios that Appalachian has been pursuing since the athletics feasibility committee made their recommendation last August. As you recall, the committee recommended that Appalachian seek membership in a conference that sponsors FBS football and the Board of Trustees approved that recommendation this past September. The committee’s mandate was that a new conference must create geographic rivalries and make financial sense for us.”
“Feedback that we have received throughout this process has been overwhelmingly positive with regards to our University’s and athletics department’s infrastructure. Our academic programs are top-notch, our financial base is strong, the data put forth by the athletics feasibility committee is solid and our facilities, fan support and success on the playing fields and courts are unparalleled among our peers.”
One of the hurdles for ASU to overcome is their location. They are located in Boone, North Carolina, a town with a population of 14,138 according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2009).
But Cobb accentuates the positives in his letter, stating that Appalachian State is “…in the coverage areas of four top-100 markets that serve over 3 million homes combined” and that they have “…103,000 living alumni and 76,000 of them live in the major population centers of North Carolina.”
In addition, Cobb points out that based on last years attendance, the Mountaineers would have finished 5th in Conference USA and second in the Sun Belt Conference.
Earlier this week, it was rumored that App State and New Mexico State would get invitations to join the Sun Belt Conference. That rumor was shot down by SBC commissioner Karl Benson, as least in regards to NM State.
The letter released by Appalachian State’s Charlie Cobb shows that the Mountaineers are more interested in joining Conference USA than the Sun Belt.