LETTER TO THE EDITOR: App State sports cuts are our fault

I was beaming with pride after watching Kyle Busch win the Xfinity Series race with an App State paint scheme last Monday. The Mars/M&Ms team did the paint scheme as a gift to honor App State’s 2020 graduates.

The excitement faded quickly when Doug Gillin announced the demise of three of our sports programs — men’s tennis, men’s soccer and indoor track & field.

We aren’t the first university to lose sports programs and we won’t be the last.

It’s unfortunate and not something fans and alumni want to see. At the end of the day, it’s our fault.

We have almost 130,000 living alumni, yet the Yosef Club only has around 3,000 members. That’s 1.5% of living alumni plus student members. I’ve seen lots of criticism of App State for cancelling these programs.

Before anyone criticizes the university, especially alumni and fans, we should consider our own support for the school’s athletics. Buying tickets and going to games is one thing, but if you’re not giving to the Yosef Club, you’re not really supporting athletics as a whole. It’s like voting. If you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain. 

If a third of our alumni gave just ten dollars per month, the $5 million we just cut from our athletic budget could be salvaged. Our athletics program is not wasteful and are good stewards of state and private funds.

It’s going to take every Mountaineer to continue the climb to athletic excellence that has played a large part in taking App State from a small school in the mountains to a school that is recognized nationally and has nearly doubled its enrollment since my time there in the early 2000s.

David Phillips lives in Winston-Salem and is a 2004 graduate of Appalachian State University. App State recently launched a giving program to support athletics at mountaineerimpact.com.