East Tennessee State feeling effects of shutdown

By Matt Hill

   JOHNSON CITY -- With the state government shutdown occurring on Monday, East Tennessee University definitely felt the effects.
   ETSU is now closed until a state budget is passed, meaning the athletic department is currently without paid workers.
   East Tennessee State athletic director Todd Stansbury says that things have come to a halt.
   "We're pretty much shut down like the rest of the state," Stansbury said. "The people who are continuing to work are doing so on a voluntary basis."
   If state lawmakers can't pass a budget soon, the effects may really be detrimental to the athletic department.
   Right now, students who are taking summer classes to get eligible for the fall may be out of luck.
   If second session summer semester classes don't take place, then students will have make other arrangements.
   "If there is no second session, any student athlete planning to go for eligibility purposes will have to do so at a college out of the state," Stansbury said.
   Lawmakers inability to pass a budget means that summer workouts at ETSU have been postponed.
   Many of the football players have been working out this summer in the weight room to get ready for this year, so they might be hurting once the season begins in late August.
   "If students aren't able to work out, it puts them at a disadvantage," Stansbury said.
   Stansbury also believes the basketball programs will feel the effects of the shutdown.
   "Men's and women's basketball teams are in summer recruiting," Stansbury said. "It puts them at a disadvantage because they can't recruit, but everybody else is recruiting rising seniors."
   Chances are lawmakers will come up with a budget in the next few days. But if they don't, sports like football could really be hurting this season.
   Stansbury is hoping ETSU won't have to worry about that.
   "I'm hoping this thing is going to last a couple of days, and not a couple of weeks," Stansbury said.
   Even if a budget is passed by General Assembly, trouble could still be lurking for the ETSU athletic programs.
   The proposed DOGS budget would make ETSU's athletic department lose $3 million this upcoming year.
   "It's just one of those things," Stansbury said. "We'll prepare for the worse, and hope for the best. We're focused on moving forward. We'll meet with the Pirate Club to control what we can control, and try to help ourselves through fundraising and marketing efforts."
   The budget crisis puts a damper on what could be a dynamite year for ETSU athletics. The Buccaneer football team has been ranked nationally in a couple of preseason publications, and the men's basketball team will probably be favored to win the Southern Conference.
   The effects on these teams are still yet to be determined, but Stansbury thinks the games will go on this season in Johnson City.
   "We're going to get our teams to competitions," Stansbury said. "The major effects will probably be in support areas. The last thing I want to do is affect our student athletes' ability to compete."