UPDATED: Thanks to HapApp in the comments for pointing out that in the actual video of the speech he DOES mention App St. In the transcript App St is not mentioned.
We can all respect ECU at least for the fact that they are the one FBS team in the state who isn’t afraid to play us on a regular basis (until we beat them this season). However, some of the comments ECU’s Chancellor Steve Ballard made in his annual “State of the University” address really caught my attention. The speech is making waves around the internet because he confirmed that the 4-pod approach is what CUSA/MWC is aiming for. However, it’s his mention of App St & UNCC that matters to us.
This is an excerpt of the speech, moments before he brings up App St & UNCC:
As you know, we are working on the possibility of a new athletic conference, which at some point would merge the old Conference USA with the Mt. West conference. This merger touches some raw nerves in the Pirate Nation because, quite frankly, we have never received the national respect that we have earned on the playing fields. But we should all remember this: Bad decisions made externally only means that there are bad decision-makers out there.
Unfortunately, the way athletic conferences choose new members is no longer a rational process. As one commissioner said to me, “We no longer have athletic conferences, we only have TV partnerships.” Because of the overwhelming influence that large TV contracts now have on college sports, ECU does not control and indeed can barely influence the factors that dictate conference alignment. As the author Meg Wheately said, “IN THIS ENVIRONMENT, IF YOU’RE NOT CONFUSED, YOU’RE NOT THINKING CLEARLY.”
But it seems as if adding regional rivals (not necessarily well-performing schools) is his #1 priority.
We look forward to playing long-time rivals such as Marshall and Southern Miss and to adding several eastern universities to our schedule. Hopefully, one will be Charlotte.
UNCC is the only school listed in the transcipt but in the actual speech he mentions App St as well. In reality, UNCC is the only team being openly discussed as an addition. UNCC would not be a decision based on performance – since UNCC has never “performed” a down. (They’re undefeated!) Their basketball is the definition of mediocre. Let’s all be honest here, they have one leg to stand on and that’s television market. The ONE thing the Chancellor specifically said was a bad reason to pick a school. Sure UNCC is nice for travel but picking them is a mistake.
Frankly it’s ridiculous to try to make us feel sorry for ECU not getting into the Big East, when it looks they will only pick TV market schools for their conference. We should all remember his quote, “Bad decisions made externally only means that there are bad decision-makers out there.” If App St is not chosen and UNCC is, it will prove that this new conference is full of them.
For the full transcript of the speech, click HERE.
Picture source: ECU