In response to smaller budgets compared to other Division I athletic programs, some Appalachian coaches are changing the way they recruit their athletes.
According to USA Today research, Appalachian State University, out of 230 schools ranked 89th in the country in athletic spending and revenue for the 2015-16 academic year. The athletic department raked in $31,712,155 in revenue while their expenses added up to $31,523, 281.
Compared to other Division I programs in North Carolina such as UNC Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, Appalachian’s annual revenue is approximately $50,000,000- $65,000,000 less.
Softball coach, Shelly Hoerner said, “We can’t wine about it, but we do have to get more creative. We are on the phone constantly and watching recruitment videos. We also have to fundraise to compete with other programs. Even at this level, we have to be able to be funded in order to compete in the conference.”
Bo Redman, the men’s golf head coach does not see the budget as a negative however does acknowledge that different approaches to recruitment are needed.
“We may not be able to recruit those blue chip guys because of our budget and our location,” said Redman. “Instead we look for someone who is trending in the right direction.”
Although Redman said the team is wearier of budgets than some other athletic programs at App, men’s golf also raises money through fundraisers.
Redman also said he looks for athletes who may not have hit their potential.
“We may find someone who is playing 4-5 different sports and hasn’t focused on just one. If we read him correctly then maybe we can train him to be better,” said Redman.
Although some coaches at Appalachian may see the campus’ location as a hindrance because of weather complications, Redman sees the landscape as an opportunity to attract new recruits.
“We may get a guy who likes to ski or snowboard,” said Redman. “A lot of coaches won’t let their athletes play because of injury risk but our mountains are a huge positive about our location.”
Some programs utilize summer athletic programs that are available to the community in order to raise money for their teams while they scout new potential recruits.
“We offer a few basketball camps that are just for fun, we don’t make a lot of money doing those but it's really great for the community,” said Trevor Smith. “But we do have our elite camps that are for more serious players, they’re the ones we look at for recruitment.”
Trevor Smith is the program director for women’s basketball and also the camp director for some of the basketball camps offered in the summer.
The money made from elite camps are put back into the athletic programs and utilized to train current and future athletes.
Committed and potential recruits can also be seen participating in these elite camps. Because coaches are not allowed to talk to players until 9th grade, Smith said they are a good way to “see potential recruits perform in an environment that we can control.”
“When they come to camp, because coaches mostly see potential recruits at games, we can run them through our drills. During evaluations we see how good they are and how good they could be,” Smith said.
Wrestling’s head coach, JohnMark Bentley said he supplements hard work to make up for the program’s inability to offer scholarships to potential recruits.
“We have to sell our program and coaching staff along with the vision of being a part of something great,” Bentley said.
“I believe our detailed focus on the development process is the biggest reason for this growth in our current wrestlers,” Bentley said. “We just don’t have a lot of scholarship money to offer. But the biggest factor in success we’ve had despite being underfunded is simply hard work.”