ASU football going to the next level?

Published: Aug. 24, 2011 at 8:40 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 24, 2011 at 8:42 PM EDT
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BOONE - When it comes to college football, Appalachian State University in Boone has accomplished just about anything a school at its level can... six straight Southern Conference championships, three national championships and a high profile win at Michigan put ASU football on the map, and now the school is thinking about reaching the next level.

On Monday a committee made the recommendation to move ASU to the Football Bowl subdivision, it's the highest level of play in college football.

The success on the field has been remarkable, and in the stands, Appalachian already draws more fans that 43 higher level FBS schools, with nearly 30,000 filling Kidd Brewer Stadium on game days.

But does it mean Appalachian is ready to move to the sport's highest level? And if they did, what would it mean?

"The emphasis is on academics of the institution, and everybody knows that athletics certainly enriches that experience," school Chancellor Dr. Kenneth Peacock told WBTV.   "That university experience is enriched tremendously by having a great athletic program and Appalachian wants to continue to do that."

The chancellor also told WBTV that the move would bring Appalachian into line with other schools that "are more like Appalachian," and change the football schedule to have more opponents "that created sizzle."

Peacock says that as Appalachian has changed in the last twenty years, it has improved in academics and athletics and should be in the same league with similar institutions.

The chancellor says it would help academically, as well as athletically, raising the school's profile and attracting more qualified applicants to the Boone campus, and that's not all.

"There is the possibility, if you're successful, of more money, and there are some models that we've seen, although I have not received the final report yet, some models we have seen in which you can actually reduce student fees and make it less expensive," Peacock added.

But making the move won't come cheap. ASU's football budget is about $6 million short of where it would need to be, and ASU would have to offer 85 football scholarships, it now offers 63.

"More scholarships will be required, more dollars in private fund raising will be required...we're not doing this on the backs of students, we're just not," said Peacock.

On the revenue creating side,  ticket prices could go up, guarantees from opponents would increase, and ASU would have a chance to share bowl money if ASU or any team from a prospective conference gets into a bowl game.

"If you get in that league and you're colleagues go, it does benefit you as well," Peacock added.

Bill Corriher runs Mountaineer Mania in downtown Boone.   His business depends on football success. While he admits moving up sounds good, there's one big question...where, exactly, would the Mountaineers go?

What conference would want them?

"That remains to be seen, that's the unanswered question right now, that will determine a lot of how excited people are," Corriher told WBTV.

ASU's Trustees will meet next month to vote on the idea. At best, it would still take a minimum of three years, according to the chancellor.

Appalachian's first game is at Virginia Tech one week from Saturday.

Copyright 2011 WBTV. All rights reserved.