By Jesse Wood
Nov. 28, 2014. The Appalachian State University is seeking a waiver for the Mountaineers to be eligible for any potential bowl games it may be invited to participate in this season.
The athletics department filed the request with the NCAA’s Legislative Relief Committee on Tuesday.
As it stands right now, the Mountaineers aren’t eligible to participate because transitioning teams, such as App State and Georgia Southern, which both moved from the Southern Conference in the FCS to the Sun Belt Conference in the FBS this past summer, must wait a year to become bowl eligible.
For this request to even be worth reviewing, however, the Mountaineers must beat Idaho on Saturday. In the written request, ASU Chancellor Sheri Everts wrote, “Should Appalachian State defeat the University of Idaho on Saturday, it would meet NCAA requirements for bowl eligibility – a final regular-season record of 7-5 with six wins over FBS opponents and one win over an FCS program.”
App State Athletics spokesman Mike Flynn said that if the waiver is granted than the Mountaineers would be eligible for any of the 38 bowls that will be played during the postseason. Most likely, App State and other Sun Belt Conference teams would play in bowls that have a contract with the conference.
For the 2014 season, the Sun Belt Conference has a contract with R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, the GoDaddy Bowl and the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl to field one SBC team. In addition, it added the Cure Bowl to begin next season and will also send teams to the Miami Beach Bowl and Bahamas Bowl on a rotating basis in the future.
Flynn said there is no timeline as to when the committee has to decide whether or not to grant the waiver. However, a decision is expected quickly because the first bowl game of the 2014 season is on Dec. 20 and happens to be the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.
Flynn added that it is requesting this waiver because “we feel that we have already met or are on an appropriate timeline to meet all of the requirements to become an FBS program, so therefore we are asking for our student-athletes to have the same opportunity to potentially compete in a bowl game as the student-athletes in other FBS programs.”
The waiver request notes that App State completed reclassification requirements pertaining to scheduling, attendance, financial aid, compliance review and the annual report and strategic plan for year two. The request notes that the football program currently has the highest multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) in the Sun Belt Conference, and that the athletics department approached this transition to the Sun Belt with the “utmost integrity and commitment to academic success.”
“Appalachian State’s success on the field this season has not been built on the backs of at-risk transfers. Of the 104 student-athletes currently on its roster, only nine have transferred into Appalachian State from other institutions. Of those nine transfers, only four have been recruited since the reclassification process began in 2013 and only one transferred from another Division I institution,” the request to the Legislative Relief Committee reads.
App State started the season with a 1-5 start, which included a disappointing, at-home overtime loss to Liberty, an FCS team. However, since that loss the Mountaineers have won five straight. Heading into the Idaho game on Saturday, the Mountaineers are third in the conference with the third best overall record (6-5) and the third best conference record (5-2).
Saturday day will be senior day and fan appreciation day at Kidd Brewer Stadium when the Mountaineers clash against Idaho.
And the seniors are part of the reason, as the letter to the Legislative Relief Committee concludes, this request is being made: “These student-athletes, particularly the program’s 14 seniors, have made great sacrifices during the reclassification period and, frankly, deserve this opportunity. We feel that it is only fair that the student-athletes receive the same opportunity as their peers at other institutions to be rewarded for a great season with a bowl bid.”