JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (June 11, 2013) – During a press conference Tuesday inside the D.P. Culp University Center, the East Tennessee State University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics was officially welcomed back into the Southern Conference. In addition, it was announced that ETSU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Richard Sander has signed a one-year extension with the program.
SoCon Commissioner John Iamarino was on hand to officially extend ETSU athletics an invitation to join the league, while ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland was also present to accept that request. The SoCon voted to invite ETSU back into the conference on May 30, and the Buccaneers will begin play in their new league during the fall of 2014.
“We’re extremely happy to welcome East Tennessee State back to the Southern Conference,” Imarino said. “The strength of its athletic programs, the commitment to the academic well-being of its student-athletes and the ongoing addition of quality playing venues makes ETSU a great fit for the SoCon. We are looking forward to the Bucs joining us in 2014 and hope their loyal fan and alumni base is as well.”
Noland was happy to accept the SoCon’s invitation.
“Today, we continue a tradition that started back in 1978 when East Tennessee State University first joined the Southern Conference,” Noland said. “We are honored to be included among the elite schools that now form the SoCon. This will be an amazing opportunity for all of our student-athletes and the Buccaneer fans.”
ETSU was a member of the SoCon from 1978-2005 and won the Commissioner’s Cup during the 1982-83 academic year. The Buccaneers sponsor 17 sports and will restart the football program, which was dropped in 2003, in time for the 2015 season. A member of the Atlantic Sun since 2005, ETSU flourished in the league, winning the men’s all-sports race each year from 2005-12, the women’s all-sports trophy in 2006-07 and the combined all-sports race each year from 2006-12.
Citing the exciting times that await ETSU athletics with the start of a new football program and a return to the Southern Conference, Sander said he was pleased to be a part of setting a new vision for the Buccaneers.
“ETSU students, alumni and community supporters should be inspired by the leadership of Dr. Noland and the path that we have set for the athletic program here,” Sander said. “There is a lot of work to be done, but our department is ready to take on the challenges and begin working to do our part for the university as a whole.”
Noland said Sander was the right man to lead the program through these changes.
“Dr. Sander is a highly respected individual in the world of intercollegiate athletics and he has provided brilliant leadership for the ETSU athletics program during the past five months,” Noland said. “During this brief time, he has worked tirelessly to assist the university in starting our football program and has also done a tremendous job in leading our other sports teams. He is an aggressive recruiter, an effective fundraiser, and a true advocate for our student athletes. I am delighted that he has agreed to remain with us for an extended period.”