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Kennesaw State eyes FCS Football

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  • Kennesaw State eyes FCS Football

    Kennesaw State (Georgia) is looking at adding Football to its athletic department to increase moral and school spirit. The tide has changed, there are more schools adding football then there are those dropping it,now is the time to do this, lets atleast do a study to see what it would take and see if would be successful. I had to edit some of the article so I could post it. Believe it or not, their goal is the Big East.

    Sunday, March 11, 2007

    By David Brandt

    MDJ Assistant News Editor

    KENNESAW - Several universities across the country often have their names immediately associated with their athletic teams.
    Especially football.Especially in Georgia.Especially when it comes to UGA.
    In the coming years, Kennesaw State University hopes to share the Georgia college football limelight with similar symmetry between its name and what officials hope will become a successful football program, often considered a right of passage for most NCAA Division I schools. KSU entered Division I in its 2005-06 year."We are sitting here without a football program, but we should have one," said KSU Athletic Director Dave Waples, who helped create the football program at Valdosta State University in south Georgia in the late 1970s. "I've been trying for 20 years to get one here.""It's not so much a ripple effect as it is a tsunami," Papp said in describing the interest and possible plans for a football program.But he hopes the tide will turn in KSU's favor after officials learn the findings of a fundraising feasibility study conducted by Greg Turner of the consulting firm Turner and Associates. KSU officials asked Turner to survey donors and trustees about a potential capital campaign for the school's athletics department.Though football was not part of the original survey, university officials expected it to be a hot topic among respondents.Turner would not comment on specific details of the feasibility study per a contract agreement with KSU. Papp said that Turner is expected to present a first draft late this week, with a final report due to KSU officials early in April.Meanwhile, ideas are plentiful about what a KSU football program could become down the road and what it could mean for the university's future.

    Stadium seating

    Papp and Waples agree that initiating KSU football would require a founding investment between $20 million and $40 million. But several factors play into that amount.The most significant is where the team would play."We want a stadium that's either on campus or across from campus," Waples said.Two spots he considers "available" on campus are a wooded lot across from the baseball field along Kennesaw State University Road in the southern portion of campus, or the campus' East Parking Lot behind a Shell gas station and a Waffle House on Frey Road in the adjacent southeast corner.Waples said no architect has completed a design of a football stadium, but available room on campus could push the number of people a facility may be able to hold. He said initial construction could fit as many as 35,000 people. It's more likely, however, that KSU would start with fewer seats.For the Owls to maintain Division I status in college football, Waples said there would need to be a rolling average attendance of at least 15,000 spectators over the first two years."A stadium made to hold 16,000 would be enough," he said. "We'd already have the available seating."
    Outside of stadium plans, personnel, uniforms, equipment and additional athletic facilities also must be accounted for to start a football program. A startup fund of $1 million, Waples said, would likely cover a new weight room, uniforms, protective player equipment and video equipment to record and catalog games.The first million dollars, he said, likely would not be able to pay for new personnel or athletic offices, although Waples said the school could save some money by including offices in stadium plans. Such design is found in many college stadiums around the country.Another planning factor for a football program is what level of Division I that KSU can maintain. Annual operating costs for a Division I non-scholarship football team - which Waples and Papp expect to start with - are estimated to be around $1 million.He went on to say Division I-AA schools like Georgia Southern University in Statesboro operate with an annual football budget of about $1.5 million, while Division I-A programs, such as Georgia Tech and UGA, operate between $5 million and $7 million, but even that amount varies program to program.According to department records, KSU's 2006-07 athletic budget is about $5.7 million, an almost $2.5 million increase from its last budget as a Division II school in 2004-05. Just more than $2 million covers salaries and benefits, while $1.8 million is devoted to athletic scholarships, including summer school.Based on Waples estimates, the first few years of a football program would force that budget to be at least $7.5 million, even higher with a stadium attached.But "we are still about $4 million behind D-I schools with no football," Waples said.

    Morale boost

    Approval of football for KSU surely would swell up anticipation from students, faculty and the Kennesaw community alike, but Waples still urges all to not hold their breath."Once football is announced, it will take three years before you see a team play," he said, adding that about 18 months to two years would be under the management of the first KSU football coach. There's also the need to hire additional coaching staff, recruiting players and training the team in time for a scheduled first season."These things can't be rushed," Waples said. "But we won't have any trouble finding coaches and players. High school players would jump at the chance to attend a school like KSU."He said the idea of KSU football alone is enough to make waves in various aspects of the university outside of the athletics department.He also said football could help draw more spectators to other KSU sporting events. As of this year, according university data, average attendance per game among KSU's teams is estimated at 1,100 for men's basketball; 350 for women's basketball; 400 for volleyball; 350 for baseball; 300 for softball; and 650 for women's soccer.But with the addition of football, free student admission to sports events might have to go, Waples said. KSU students might only have to chip in $2 or $3 a ticket, however, since at least 77 percent of the athletics budget is derived from student activity fees.Papp sees the addition of football as a chance for KSU to become a better draw for students. With student enrollment fast approaching 20,000, now is the time to build on opportunity."The level of campus camaraderie goes way up," Papp said. "If you're going to have a football program at all, you've got to make sure it's a successful one. And all sorts of advantages come with that.""I would expect to see increased student retention and increased graduation rates," Papp said. "It should also increase students' ties to KSU and enhance the campus relationship with the community."

    Players market

    If or when KSU football kicks off, don't expect it to play Georgia and Georgia Tech right away or be equally popular from a national perspective."Do you know what the No. 1 major is at UGA? I don't, but I can tell you how the football team did last year," he said. "For anyone to have a big-time program, they'd have to get in one of those conferences."Roy Martin and Fred Stillwell, longtime KSU sports fans and donors to the school, are delighted at the chance for football on campus. Martin, a former president of the KSU athletics booster club, said football would mark a new era for the school."It's quite an undertaking, but it could be very helpful. It helps unite the student body and draws in the community, as well," he said, adding that fellow church members often ask him about the status of KSU's program.

    KSU isn't the only metro-Atlanta institution considering a future in football. Georgia State University released its finding of a football program feasibility study last fall.According to the results, moving into Division I-AA football would cost Georgia State between $6 million and nearly $25 million. About $20 million would be needed to replace its Sports Arena with a stadium arena, and build a football practice facility in downtown Atlanta.Georgia State officials have yet to announce the start of a football program.But regardless of the means by which KSU's program is born, Martin said he looks forward to the day Owls football takes the field.

    "I'm 75," he said. "I hope to see the football team play."

    Staff writer Jon Gillooly contributed to this article.

    Copyright © 2007 Marietta Daily Journal. All rights reserved.
    All other trademarks and Registered trademarks are property of their respective owners.

  • #2
    For Kennesaw State, football at what cost?
    Financing, new stadium are Owls' top concerns

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Published on: 08/08/07

    Dave Waples lovingly removes the model football helmet from a shelf in his office. It's black with a yellow stripe, and a yellow owl is emblazoned on the side. Think Pittsburgh Steelers, only more nocturnal.

    Creating that part of the Kennesaw State football program was easy. The next part — forming a team, building facilities and funding college's most expensive sport — won't be as simple.

    Waples, the athletics director at Kennesaw for 18 years, is unabashedly in favor of adding the sport. He was at Valdosta State when that school added football in 1982 and has been a proponent of adding the sport since he arrived at the Cobb County institution.

    President Daniel S. Papp, who played football as a young man and was surrounded by the sport during his tenure at Georgia Tech, is more pragmatic. "I tell people I'm a football agnostic," Papp said. "The bottom line is it's an economic decision."

    The school recently completed a feasibility study that showed most shared Waples' point of view; 66 percent of those surveyed said the school "should definitely" start a program, while only 18 percent said no.

    "Every time I walk across the campus, I get asked by somebody, 'Dr. Papp, when are we going to start football?' " Papp said. "We know the interest is there."

    But before ordering shoulder pads and girdles, the school has many decisions to make. Most of the choices are tied to price tags.

    Playing options

    Once the school makes the decision to play, the next crucial step will be deciding at which level to compete.

    Kennesaw could opt for the non-scholarship approach, which would mean joining the Pioneer Football League and competing against schools like Davidson, Jacksonville and Drake. That would cost $1 million to $1.5 million a year.

    The Owls, who currently compete in the football-bereft Atlantic Sun Conference, could choose to join a Division I-AA league like the Big South or Ohio Valley Conference. That would put them in competition with the likes of Liberty, Presbyterian, Jacksonville State and Eastern Illinois. That would cost $2.5-3 million a year.

    Or Kennesaw could take the big plunge and dive in with the big dogs of Division I-A. Such a move will get a school on the ESPN highlight reel, but it will cost $5-6 million a year. That equates into a lot of bucks per booh-yah.

    "That would put you in an elite group," Waples said. "You'd be in the same room with Georgia and Georgia Tech and Oklahoma. Now, you'd be in the back of the room, away from the stage, but you'd still be in the room."

    Waples said whatever decision the school makes must be made with a long-term strategy in mind.

    "You have to look 20-30 years down the road and see where we want to be," Waples said.

    In addition to the funding question, Papp's other concerns are where the team will practice, play and park, as well as how the addition of football will tilt the school's Title IX numbers.

    Where to build, and for how much

    Currently, there is no room on the landlocked campus to build the 20,000-seat stadium that will be needed. Papp said the school will not compromise the current green space. Playing at a high school stadium is a short-term option, but no one involved wants to build a permanent facility that's 20 miles from campus. Officials are now looking into some close-to-campus options.

    Meanwhile, a quiet campaign to test the financial fortitude of contributors has started. Now the administration will need to sell the school's 20,000 students on raising the activity fee by $30-45 per semester; students will be surveyed this fall. Football plans can't go ahead without a firm commitment from both groups.

    "If we get positive answers to all four questions, it would probably be three years at best before you could start playing," Papp said. "You have to get the money flowing in, build what you need to build and recruit a coaching staff."
    “I'm just glad I don't have herpes.” - Former UGA QB Buck Belue talking about Mike "Ron Mexico" Vick


    • #3
      KSU ready to kick-off football campaign
      Written by Kelly Blaine, Special to the Sentinel
      Tuesday, 16 October 2007

      Athletic Director, Dr. Dave Waples, says that KSU is ready for some football. According to Waples, the first-ever fundraising campaign in the history of the university will kick off at the end of October. The proposed campaign includes an estimated $11 million for existing sports and anywhere from $15 to $30 million for football.The $11 million will be used to build a field house with an indoor track and a 24-hour student recreation center, to upgrade the soccer and baseball fields, and to support academia.The money allocated for the football program would be used in part to build a multi-purpose stadium, ancillary facilities and to acquire the land necessary to build these facilities. One possible location for the stadium is at the east parking lot near the Waffle House. “I don’t want to build a stadium ten miles from campus, because that defeats the entire purpose of having football. I want students to be able to walk to the games,” Waples said.Other possible locations include land on the opposite side of Chastain Road or land on the west side of campus. How soon we get a team is entirely dependent on the success of the fundraising campaign.“If we got the money tomorrow, boom, we’re into football immediately,” Waples said.More likely though, Waples feels that coaches and staff could be hired during the first part of the 2008-09 school year. The staff would then begin scouting and recruiting in January 2009, and the team would be eligible to play in the 2011 season. Dr. Shane Smith, assistant professor of Sports Marketing, says that KSU needs to do it soon if the school is going to beat Georgia State at acquiring a team. According to Smith, Georgia State is working harder and faster in the race for a football team.In addition to the start-up costs and the current athletics budget, it is estimated that annual operating expenses of $1-$5 million will be needed to sustain the program. Part of this money would come from sponsorships, naming rights, ticket sales and concessions.KSU says the majority, however, will likely rely on student athletic fees. According to Waples, “our athletic fees are among the lowest in the state, and we hope that the students will agree to an athletic fee increase to help support the football program.” The amount of the proposed increase is undecided, but according to a feasibility study released by the athletics department earlier this year it may fall in the range of $30-$45 per semester. Students will be asked to vote on the increase this fall. Waples says the size of the athletics fee increase will help determine the scope of the football program. The school’s options, he says, are to join Division 1-AA non-scholarship, which will cost $1 - $1.5 million per year in addition to the current budget, Division 1-AA with 65 scholarships, which will cost around $2.5 - $3 million per year or Division 1-A with 85 full scholarships, which will cost an estimated $5 million plus per year.Waples said that if going to Division 1-AA is what it takes to get football, then that is what we will do, but ideally we would like to go straight to division 1-A. “If we are going to do it, we want to do it big.”One option is the Big East Conference. Both the SEC and ACC have 12 teams, while the Big East currently has eight. "This is the perfect place for football,” Waples added, referring to Atlanta and its lucrative media market.Reactions from faculty around the campus are mixed. When asked about football, Dr. John David Johnson II, assistant professor of Sport Management, is protective of the existing sports programs, saying that rushing to Division 1-A is “not a good idea because it will take away from other sports.” He also points out other problems such as the lack of spectators for current sports, Title IX and the athletic fee increase.“[Current] students’ fees will be going up to pay for a future football team. It’s not fair, and I think students have a right to know,” Johnson said. Smith disagrees, saying, “Football will have a tremendous impact on student culture. Good sports bring in good students, involve the community and bring in contributions. I’m all for it.” Waples, who has been Athletic Director for 21 years, acknowledges that hurdles must be overcome, but maintains that football will help other sports. He also believes that in the long run, the notoriety will increase the value of students’ diplomas.“We want to take [KSU] to the next level beyond a commuter school. To do that, we need campus housing and football, and we are doing everything we can to get football,” Waples said.

      This article appeared in the Kennesaw Sentinel on Tuesday, October 16, 2007.


      • #4
        I can just hear KSU fans after the game . . .

        "Who's up for waffles?!?!?"

        Sorry, couldn't resist.


        • #5
          Your reply topic is wrong, of course. WSU is not still silent. Beggs and Schaus have made it clear that football is not being considered. The topic subject should read, "WSU's carefully considered position on football remains unchanged."
          The fact that man is master of his actions is due to his being able to deliberate about them.-- Thomas Aquinas


          • #6
            get over it. it aint happening anytime soon.