During a Q&A here, at the official WSU website, Sterk raised an intriguing point. After a fair point was raised by Chris (From Burien), Jim Sterk said something that raised a few eyebrows:
Chris (Burien): Someone asked me what I think of Apple Cup being played in Seattle instead of Pullman. My response is that I feel like we're selling our soul. The more I think about it the more I think that's true. Pullman truly is the soul of a Cougar. I understand the current state of the economy and I've heard it said that we need the Seattle game payday to become a big-time program. In many Cougs opinion, if this is what it takes to make the big-time, no thanks. We'll take Pullman instead. Some things simply should not be for sale. Thoughts?
Jim Sterk: Chris, many programs over time have played neutral site football rivalry games. Some like Alabama-Auburn, Ole-Miss-Mississippi State have returned those games to their individual campuses after the addition of premium seating and overall capacity to their stadiums has taken place. In recent history, Missouri-Kansas moved their rivalry game to Kansas City. I'd like to point out that in the 1960s WSU's membership in the conference was at stake and only a close vote saved the school from being ousted from the conference. The Pac-10 is one of the most prestigious conferences in the country and allows the WSU athletics program and the university's academic programs to be on the same field and classrooms as Stanford, UC-Berkeley, USC, etc. The athletics program at WSU is the only way this membership is achieved. Our annual budget is currently $14 million below the next lowest member in the conference. If we do not take action to create revenue and level this playing field, we may be at some point in the future be facing another vote. I will do everything that I can on my watch to prevent such an action. This is why I am pushing for Phase III of the renovation [To Martin Stadium] and am considering the Apple Cup move.
That came out of nowhere. One sentence he is talking about nuetral field rivalries and the next he is talking about getting voted out of the pac-10. Is Sterk serious about this? Or is it just a scare tactic to bring support for the move. What are your thoughts?
Note: Sterk notes that Phase III of Martin Stadium Renovation would bring in more BCS Non-Conference opponents. He also notes that it would cost $40 million in cash/pledges, only $16 Million of which is currently raised.
Update: Cougfan has the Story too