Arkansas State University Athletic officials issued a response Thursday afternoon to the re-alignment issues that the Sun Belt Conference is currently facing.
“Our Intercollegiate Athletics Department is always pursuing more revenue, more television exposure and more resources to field nationally recognized programs. We will consider any opportunities that could help us achieve our goals. Arkansas State is committed to the best interests of our student-athletes.”
ASU System President Dr. Chuck Welch went a step further during a live interview with EAB’s The Ticket Game Time Mickey Ryan on 95.3 FM Thursday afternoon.
“ASU will be very proactive in this situation and will do what's best for ASU and our Student Athletes,” Dr. Welch said. “I can promise you that AState will not settle for the status quo, the status quo isn't acceptable for us at Arkansas State University.”
Dr. Welch acknowledge that a lot of conferences use the size of their television markets in selecting schools, but was quick to point out that ASU have some top selling points of their own.
“We have some of the highest profile coaches in the mid majors,” Dr. Welch said. “We have the highest average attendance in our conference and one of the high ones among several conferences. We have had a 44% increase in season ticket sales in the last two years. We are building great facilities, and we have won 14 out of the last 15 conference games in the last two seasons.”
Ryan asked Dr. Welch a couple of other hot topic questions, including about Gus Malzahn’s name surfacing at other schools for their coaching searches.
“I would much rather have a coach that someone wants than one they don’t want,” Dr. Welch said. “That means we are winning and that coach is being successful.”
Welch also sounded confident about Malzahn’s future at Arkansas State.
“I took a trip up to Jonesboro on Monday and had a great visit with Coach Malzahn,” Dr. Welch said. “We had a great talk, I feel confident that Gus Malzahn will be on our sidelines next fall.”
Ryan also asked Dr. Welch about Bowl opportunities for Arkansas State.
“There are other Bowls in play other than just the Go Daddy.com Bowl,” Dr. Welch said. “Again it comes back to revenue, how much can be generated for the conference. If a Bowl is more lucrative by selling more tickets, that’s a positive for the conference and the university. If we win Saturday, I’m very excited and feel the fans will be about the possibilities that will be available for ASU.”