Kennesaw State University students say "Yes" to football!
Submitted by tdemel on Tue, 11/16/2010 - 4:34pm
Nearly 56 percent of voters support football at Georgia’s third largest university
For more information on football at KSU click here.
KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov. 16, 2010) — Kennesaw State University students have voiced support for a football fee at Georgia’s third largest university. Of the 7,358 students who voted in last week’s survey, 55.5 percent of them support a $100 per-semester fee, which would be initiated at the earliest in fall 2012 — but only if several additional milestones are achieved before then.
There were 22,388 eligible voters — those who currently pay the university’s athletics fee — and 33 percent of them voted.
The vote took place online between Nov. 8 and 14, via a survey shaped by KSU’s Student Government Association (SGA), with advice and guidance provided by KSU faculty. In the week preceding the vote, KSU President Daniel S. Papp conducted nine football forums on campus with students, faculty and staff to provide information about the proposal to add football and to discuss its pros and cons.
Today’s positive vote followed the release in mid-September of a report by KSU’s Football Exploratory Committee, which concluded there was solid support for football. Headed by legendary UGA football coach and athletics director Vince Dooley, the committee’s much-awaited report commissioned by Papp, recommended that the university move forward with plans to field a football team. At that time, Papp promised to gauge student support further before a decision was made.
“Student financial support is critical if KSU is going to have a football program,” Papp said. “Before our students voted, I wanted them to have all the facts and give them a chance to ask questions in an open forum. The only way we can afford to field a football team is with the support of student fees.”
Funding football at KSU could cost between $5 million and $6 million annually, according to the report prepared by the Football Exploratory Committee. A student fee of $100 per semester, along with additional funds from sponsors, donors and ticket sales are necessary to generate revenue for the program.
Despite today’s report of strong student support for football, Papp stressed that there are still challenges ahead. “Starting a football program from scratch will not be easy, but then again nothing truly worthwhile ever is easy,” he said. “We still have a long way to go, but we are another step closer to having football at KSU! With today’s vote by the students, we are at second down; we have two more downs to go before we have a touchdown!”
The next step in the assessment process is to conduct an 18-to-30 month fundraising campaign. The campaign would need to raise between $8 million and $12 million to create the infrastructure needed to launch the football program and to expand women’s sports at the university to meet Title IX gender-equity requirements. If the fundraising is successful, a business plan then would be submitted to the Board of Regents (BOR), which would include a formal request for the $100 student fee.
Based on the timeline of the fundraising campaign, that will determine when the business plan and fee request would be submitted to the BOR. At the earliest, the request would be submitted in spring 2012 or at the latest in spring 2013. Therefore, the earliest students would pay the new fee is in the fall 2012 semester.
KSU’s Vice President for Student Success Jerome Ratchford, who chaired the Football Vote Planning Committee, said that the committee’s mission was to educate and inform students about the potential benefits and costs of adding football. “That’s why we took great pains to hold several forums around campus at various times to solicit student input and provide accurate and timely information,” Ratchford said. “We wanted to be fair and impartial and then let the students vote in a binding referendum. I am pleased that students actively engaged in the voting process and let their opinions be known regarding how they feel about adding football to our athletics program at KSU.”
Ali Kamran, president of KSU’s Student Government Association, commented on the level of student engagement. “It was very refreshing to see more than 7,000 students vote on this important matter,” he said. “The students were actively involved. I want to thank everyone in KSU student government for their help in raising awareness of this important issue.”
KSU SGA Vice President Darius Robinson, who co-led the student voting process, added: “We were at fourth and inches and decided to go for it,” he said. “We still have two quarters to play before this dream can become a reality, but we are now one step closer to having football at Kennesaw State University.”
Now that the student vote has moved KSU another step closer to fielding a football team, football games could take place at the university as early as fall 2014. If the fee approval takes place in spring 2012, coaches would be recruited in fall 2012 and players would be recruited beginning in fall 2013. With some adjustments, a football team could play in the state-of-the-art, $16.5 million KSU Soccer Stadium that was completed in May.
Papp reiterated that quality academics will remain the university’s focus even if a football program is launched. “A football program could serve our mission well, as it may help bring increased national recognition to our institution and highlight the important work that is being done here in teaching and research,” Papp said. “We are already recording a heightened media interest in the university due to the conversations we are having about a potential program. Fielding an intercollegiate football team will promote student and alumni attachment, make KSU degrees more valuable, and will enhance our ability to raise funds and attract more students.”
Kennesaw State University is the third largest university in Georgia, offering more than 70 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing, and a new Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the 35-unit University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing population of more than 23,400 students from 142 countries.