Miller Hill

Miller Hill, in the south end zone of Kidd Brewer Stadium, is pictured as it appeared on Nov. 26.

BOONE – Appalachian State Athletics is set to regrade the Miller Hill in the south end zone of Kidd Brewer Stadium to bring it closer to the field in the late spring and early summer of 2020.

The news was stated by App State Athletics Director Doug Gillin during a radio interview on Appalachian IMG Sports Network, prior to the Nov. 23 home football game versus Texas State.

“When we set out, our goal was to make this the best 30,000-seat venue in America,” Gillin said of Kidd Brewer Stadium.

Gillin said the Miller Hill grading will take place at the same time as the installment of the new turf for the playing field. The turf and hill projects were approved for $2,538,880 by the App State Board of Trustees on Nov. 5, then by the UNC Board of Governors on Nov. 15.

The two projects are funded by auxiliary trust funds and the athletics facility debt fee paid by students, App State Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs Paul Forte said at the Nov. 5 meeting.

The turf and hill projects will begin after the Luke Combs stadium concert on May 2, Gillin said. App State Athletics spokesperson Joey Jones said the grading of Miller Hill is still in the design phase and said it’s not completely decided what the project will look like.

Gillin said in his Nov. 23 interview that the walkway that currently connects both sides of the stadium behind Miller Hill would be three times bigger by kickoff in 2020. The walkway includes several third-party food vendors and restrooms, and has experienced crowding during high-attendance games.

Jones also said that as far as he was aware, the project would not include any changes to the $3 million video board that was installed on Miller Hill in 2017.

In the other end zone of the stadium, work has continued on the now-$50 million north end zone facility, which has taken shape in the last month, and is expected to be at least partially open in time for the 2020 football season. The facility will include 1,000 premium seats for the stadium, offices for coaches and staff, athletic training, hydrotherapy and locker rooms, and nutrition science research areas, as well as conference and continuing education training space, potential medical office space, dining facilities, a team store and ticketing office, according to App State.

“We’re bowling in this stadium on both sides to make it louder and an even better atmosphere for our fans and student athletes,” Gillin added on Nov. 23.

One sacrifice in the construction has been the lack of a full outdoor track for App State’s track and field programs. The teams did not host a home outdoor track and field meet in 2019 and are not slated to do so in 2020. The outdoor track and field season runs from early March to late May or early June.

Jones said the track runners are practicing on three-fourths of the outdoor facility available to them and will continue to use it through the spring season, as well as using Watauga High School’s track and field facilities.

A new track and field facility, as well as indoor and outdoor tennis courts, are part of facilities under development at are the “Appalachian 105” site, located along N.C. 105 at the old Watauga High School location. The new track and field facility is scheduled to be completed by spring 2021, Jones confirmed.

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(5) comments

As an alumn (‘90), married to an alum (‘90), have 2 daughters that are alums (‘15 and ‘19), and have a son that is currently enrolled at AppState (class of ‘21), I think I have a heavy finger on the pulse of academics, athletics and student life. I give to the Appalachian Fund as well as the Yosef Club. I have seen a tremendous amount of change at our fine institution. I’d like to ask the posters on this article if they’ve attended a graduation to hear Dean Everts overflow with pride on our academic accomplishments? Been to a football game to watch the money pouring in to not only to the stadium but the local economy? Watch the new dorms rising up in the middle of campus? Walked into the new impressive medical building? Talked to a recent grad about their education or better yet hired an ASU graduate? Before you post negative comments, perhaps take a step back and look at how far we’ve come. Understand that a certain football game a few years back put this little mountain town university on the map. Athletics give educational opportunity to kids who wouldn’t necessarily be afforded as such. It’s time to put up or shut up. If you’re not giving your time and/or resources to Appalachian State, maybe think before you write. I love this University with my heart and soul and could t be more proud of where we are today and what the future holds.

I’ve been around 33 years, so let me share what you’ve missed from the outside looking in. Since 2010, ASU has increased academic spending by 20% and increased athletic spending 125%. Seriously, 20% vs. 125%!! [] Now don’t be fooled. The 125% increase in athletic spending is NOT because athletics earned it or brings in money for the university or town. It does not. Athletics LOSES money, A LOT of it. It loses $25 million every year! []. And the losses get worse every year. Athletics loses three times more money today than in 2010! The students, university and taxpayers pay this to bail athletics out every year. So please get one thing clear. Athletics does not bring in more money than it spends. It operates at a net loss. It literally sucks money out of the rest of the campus, including real needs that actually relate to the purpose of the university. If you care about giving opportunities to students, then wouldn't you rather that $25 million be used to give a full ride to thousands of students instead of facilities and salaries of overpaid coaches and athletic personnel? Or maybe spend it on all the students by providing much needed classrooms, offices, labs, and so on. The problem is that the Chancellor and BOT allow this to happen, and apparently they’ve kept the public funding of bottomless athletic spending a big secret from parents and taxpayers. We have a bloated socialist entertainment program for fans, while academics is being starved and declining dramatically. That is the problem that you do not see from the outside.

The $2.5 million to regrade a hill is the proverbial last straw. It follows a $5 million overrun on a $50 million athletics project that replaces relatively new athletics facilities that was part of a $50 million project just 15 years ago (and is still be paid off by students today). All the while, Sanford Hall had no AC with a broken elevator for years, Rankin had bathrooms that were condemned, offices (and all the work and books) were ruined from roof leaking in Walker Hall or flooding in Edwin Duncan and Howard Hall, seats were removed from lecture halls because they are unsafe to use, and sadly students on campus are actually taking online classes because there are not enough classrooms. And even more sad, the university is hiring instructors who don't have terminal degrees because they are cheaper. But ASU is willing to spend $2.5 million to move a hill to make it louder for six days each year.

Please don't accuse others of not caring about Appalachian. People care at a deeper level than you know. And that is why it upsets them so much to see its academics decline so dramatically, all in the name of football and money. I'm glad you and others enjoy the football games. I just want you to pay for them. I want athletics to pay for itself. Right now, every student is forced to pay $1,100 per year in athletics and athletics debt fees, and in addition, the university sends more than $10 million each year to bail out athletics, with money that could be used for more important things, like the purpose of the university. Students and taxpayers are paying for a big chunk of your tickets and your tailgating and your stadium and your new hill. Athletics is fine. Athletics sucking money from students and the university is not. Most of the taxpayers aren't ASU fans. And most of ASU’s wonderful students are taking out loans and will be paying for your and other people’s enjoyment of football, with added interest, for years to come.

I nominate Mr. Gillin for University President. He has shown that he can find ways to convince the Board of Trustees and the UNC Board of Governors to grant him millions upon millions of student, taxpayer, and donor dollars, and is committed to being the BEST football program with the BEST 30,000-seat stadium in the nation. If he could become the Univ President then he could channel this entrepreneurial drive and know-how into funding the library subscriptions that are missing, getting the classroom equipment updated, sending poor students to study abroad, and paying the faculty more. He could work to make ASU the BEST Masters comprehensive university in the nation with the BEST faculty and the BEST staff and the BEST classrooms and the BEST libraries with the BEST academic programs with the MOST innovative students and the MOST in-demand graduates. So hats off to Mr Gillin. Too bad ASU doesn't have someone like that working for academics.

Liddy, Now when their football ranking means more to them than their academic ranking, this behavior makes perfect sense. Of course they can find $2.5 million to move a hill 20 feet, even after already finding $55 million to replace recently built facilities. We can't expect them to have any money left over to address trivial things like the shortage of student support, insufficient and outdated classrooms, uncompetitive faculty salaries. Moving a hill is critical to our financial stability.

What you hear at ASU: “When we set out, our goal was to make this the best 30,000-seat venue in America,” Gillin said of Kidd Brewer Stadium.

What you would never hear at ASU: "We want to have the best academic programs, best faculty and most up-to-date classrooms and labs" the BOT and Chancellor (never) said.

Spending $2.5 million to move dirt is what you'd expect when they are allowed to spend other people's money. Taxpayers and parents should be furious at the bad priorities and the mismanagement of student and public funds.

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