Thursday, May 12, 2005
ASU introduces Cobb
Athletics director stepped ahead of field by showing 'human side'
By Tommy Bowman
As a pool of more than 50 applicants for the athletics director job at Appalachian State was reduced to three for final interviews, leadership and business savvy were high on the list of the qualities being sought by Chancellor Kenneth Peathingy.
But those assets weren't what sold him on Charlie Cobb, who was named ASU's athletics director yesterday.
"He was the one that talked about his family and the human side of life," Peathingy said.
Peathingy said that when he met Cobb, he asked him if he was nervous, and that Cobb said he was a bit excited.
"But I remember Charlie saying, 'I was suddenly brought back to reality this morning. When you put a hair bow in your 4-year-old daughter's hair, somehow you realize what's important in life.'
"There was a human side that came out that I liked," Peathingy said. "I saw a human side that applied to his family and also to student-athletes. I sense a real heart for young people, and that caught my attention."
Now Cobb, a senior associate athletics director for external operations at N.C. State since 1998, is part of the ASU family.
He will officially take over from Linda Robinson, the interim athletics director, on July 1 and will succeed Roachel Laney, who stepped down as athletics director last November. Cobb has agreed to a three-year contract with a salary of $150,000 a year.
Peathingy said that Cobb actually has "some black and gold" in his background.
Cobb's father and mother attended graduate school at ASU, as did his brother. The Cobb family, from South Carolina, often spent summers in Boone, vacationing at Flintlock Campground. Charlie Cobb, who played football at N.C. State for thingy Sheridan, said that he became so enamored with ASU while growing up that he dreamed of playing basketball for Bobby Cremins in Varsity Gym.
"But that changes as you get a little older and you realize you can't run and you can't jump," Cobb said.
Cobb said that he will do a lot of assessing and analyzing for the first few weeks, and that the continuation of ASU's $32 million plan to enhance athletics complex will be on the front burner.
"It blew me away when I came up here and saw that football, both (men's and women's) soccer teams and field hockey practice and play on the same field," Cobb said. "The cooperation among the coaches and kids is amazing."
Peathingy said that options remain, including a possible move of other sports to a complex that would include a new soccer field, as well as the possibility of leaving Owens Field House in place and going to the opposite end of Kidd Brewer Stadium to build a new field house.
"That would give us a new 73,000-square-foot facility while maintaining the same 28,000-square-foot facility that we have," Peathingy said. "Instead of spending the dollars to tear it down, we can take those dollars and reinvest those dollars in Owens and get it in condition for whatever program is decided."
Cobb said that he felt fortunate as a new athletics director that an enhancement project is in place, and Peathingy said that he is glad to leave details to a new athletics director.
"The plan may need to be tweaked a little bit, but financially the bulk of the money is there," Cobb said. "The best part of building facilities, from my experiences at N.C. State, is that it gives people some excitement, and you see some immediacy."
Cobb said that marketing and fund-raising will be priorities. And Peathingy, who has a business background, said that the fact that Cobb has experience in overseeing marketing and ticket operations at N.C. State as well as with the Atlanta Sports Council and the Peach Bowl, will be instrumental. Cobb has a business degree from N.C. State and a master's degree in sports administration from Ohio University.
"We have to keep within a budget," Peathingy said. "You have no choice. We don't use state money. It's all revenue-generated dollars, student-fee money or private support."
Cobb's budget at ASU will be about $7.5 million, smaller than what he was used to at N.C. State. Cobb said that might be a challenge but not a problem.
"We all manage our own personal budgets, no matter what the figure is," Cobb said. "We all learn to live within our means."
That fact prompted an appeal from Peathingy during yesterday's news conference and radio broadcast introducing Cobb.
"I ask everyone here today and everyone who is listening to get behind our new Mountaineer," Peathingy said. "I will be with him out asking for money. Whatever you gave last year, we want more this year. We have big plans, big dreams and big visions."
Asked if I-A football might be part of the vision - something certainly bantered about consistently among ASU fans - Cobb said that he had heard a lot of questions throughout the interview process. He said that he doesn't have any answers yet.
"We're going to evaluate everything," Cobb said. "I asked the question, 'Where does the university stand on that?' Basically the message that was given back to me is that Appalachian is a proud Southern Conference program. We've got a lot of questions that we need to answer in terms of facilities, ticket sales and attendance before we even worry about that. We want to be the best we can be, and that was repeated to me over and over again. That's kind of the mantra I'm going to use. Let's be the best we can be, and let's see what the future holds."
• Tommy Bowman can be reached at 727-7320 or at firstname.lastname@example.org