Trustees OK beer, wine sales at campus athletics events, request implementation plan first

The Western Carolina University Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the sale of beer and wine at campus athletics venues, endorsing the recommendations of a 17-member special study committee assembled in August to examine pros and cons of having those alcoholic beverages available at university sporting events.

The action came as part of the board’s quarterly meeting Friday, Dec. 6. The special study committee was tasked with examining issues surrounding a state law approved by the legislature in June that empowers the boards of trustees at University of North Carolina System institutions with the authority to permit the sale of beer and wine at athletics venues.

But before fans of Catamount athletics will be able to raise their glasses to toast the board’s action, the trustees also instructed the university administration to develop an implementation plan that will guide the sale of beer and wine and to bring that plan back to the board for review at its meeting in March.

Among the matters to be considered by university administration are logistical, business and legal matters related to the sale of beer and wine at campus athletics facilities and at which athletics venues and events those beverages should be sold.

Board of Trustees member Tim Haskett served as chair of the special study committee, which was composed of a wide cross-section of campus and external community representatives. Fellow board member Kenny Messer served as vice chair.

During the past three months, the committee conducted interviews with the trustees, administration and athletics staff at peer institutions, members of WCU’s Catamount Club, university alumni, residents of the surrounding community, law enforcement personnel, and faculty, staff and students at WCU and at other institutions.

“With such a diverse group on our committee, we leveraged their broad perspectives in making our recommendation to the Board of Trustees,” Haskett said.

Other schools contacted by the committee during its review were Appalachian State, UNC Charlotte, UNC Asheville, UNC Chapel Hill, the Citadel, North Carolina A&T, East Carolina and UNC Greensboro.

Among the findings of the committee was strong support in favor of beer and wine sales from the local community, alumni, faculty, staff and students, Haskett said. Most of the interviewees said they considered the sale of beer and wine foremost as an enhancement to the fan experience.

Members of the special study committee were:

* Randy Eaton, WCU director of athletics.

* Steve Lillard, WCU chief of police.

* Shea Browning, WCU general counsel.

* Sam Miller, WCU vice chancellor for student affairs.

* Mike Byers, WCU vice chancellor for administration and finance.

* Ed Holland, WCU Alumni Association president.

* Jim Wood, president of the Catamount Club Board of Directors.

* Todd Dillard, director of Jackson County Emergency Management.

* Gorham Bradley, community member.

* Keith Corzine, WCU assistant vice chancellor for campus services.

* A.J. Grube, WCU faculty athletics representative.

* Rebecca Lasher, WCU Faculty Senate representative.

* Kaitlyn Alston, WCU Student Government Association representative.

* Mike Doppke, interim resident district manager for Aramark.

* Deidre Hopkins, staff support and WCU Staff Senate representative.