Mention Kennesaw State University athletics these days and there are several questions that come quickly to mind. Such as “When is KSU going to start a football team?” and “Why does it need a football team?”
KSU Athletic Director Vaughn Williams talked about those and other questions at a recent meeting of the Marietta Kiwanis Club.
KSU is still hoping to field a team in fall of 2014.
As for why it needs a team, it’s about raising the profile of the KSU brand, he said.
“We have to be smart and diligent and good businesspeople. I’m not trying to be Georgia and I’m not trying to be Georgia Tech. Football for Kennesaw State is about community.
“Every time I go to orientation, I ask, ‘How many of you have been to a football game?’ And every parent and student raises their hand. Football can do things for a community and a campus that you just can’t do with any other thing. So football for Kennesaw State is much about community, much about brand, much about bringing people to the campus.
“And let’s face it. Athletics in general is about competition, but it’s also about bringing people to the campus to expose them what your university has.
“I always tell my people, there are 4,300 people at a basketball game, and maybe one of them will play basketball here, but we need 4,300 people leaving here saying, ‘Kennesaw State, that was a great experience!’ They need to leave here and tell people to send their daughters and sons to our college. That’s how athletics is about branding. That’s why you see success after the college athletic world.”
KSU won’t be playing Football Bowl Subdivision (FSB) football. Instead it will play at the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) level formerly known as 1-AA.
“There is some great football at the FCS level up at the University of Massachusetts where I played, so I know how good it is,” he said. “But I always say it’s about community and football. We’re not trying to be anybody else. We’re just trying to be the best Kennesaw State, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
KSU would play football at its stadium on the east side of I-75, which seats 8,500.
“It can be expanded to hold 20,000 people eventually,” he said. “But we’re just going to play with it as it is for now.”
At present there are 261 student athletes at KSU, of whom about 60 percent are female, which is proportionate to the rest of the student body.
The prime recruiting territory for its teams is what he calls “our own backyard.”
“The Southeast is rich, rich with talent. It’s just a matter of getting them here.”
And he closed with heavy praise for retired legendary University of Georgia head football coach and athletics director Vince Dooley, who has been working with KSU as a consultant as it works to field a football team.
“I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to work with Vince Dooley for the last year and a half,” he said. “I can’t tell you, how fortunate I am to have such an individual that is so gracious that can be my friend, that can be my advisor, that can be my mentor, right on the job. We meet every week. He even convinced me to go to a Georgia football game. And I might go. You can’t stand up Vince Dooley, right? But I think we almost have him wearing black and gold, OK?”
Go Georgia! And Go KSU!
Bill Kinney is associate editor of The Marietta Daily Journal.