Exploratory committee to take ball, run with it

KENNESAW - For years, Kennesaw State University President Dr. Dan Papp said the first question he…

Georgia (Dec 11, 2009) — KENNESAW - For years, Kennesaw State University President Dr. Dan Papp said the first question he would have to answer when he made a presentation usually was: "When is KSU going to get a football team?"

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With Thursday's announcement of a 33-member football exploratory committee chaired by former University of Georgia football coach and athletic director Vince Dooley, Papp took a big step toward an answer.

Dooley and his committee will have approximately nine months to prepare a recommendation as to whether a football team is the correct next step for KSU Athletics.

"The list of questions goes on and on," Papp said about what will be necessary to launch the Owls' football program. "But it's time to answer as many of those questions as possible"

Papp said that list includes:

* What advantages and disadvantages would football bring to KSU?

* How much would football cost at Kennesaw State?

* How much student, faculty, staff and alumni support exists for football?

* How much public and corporate support exists for KSU football?

* What additional facilities would we need here on campus?

* What would be needed to maintain Title IX compliance?

* What impact would football have on the other KSU athletic teams?

* At what level would KSU begin to play football?

* And in what league would KSU begin to play football?

Papp said the committee - made up of students, faculty, staff, alumni, business and community leaders and friends and benefactors of KSU - will be charged with bringing him a recommendation by Sept. 2010 as to whether the administration will go forward with a football program.

If everything went "absolutely prefect," the Owls could field a team and play its first game in the fall of 2013.

One thing, the university already knows. If a football program is established at a lower level, the team already has a place to play. Last week, KSU announced a partnership with the Atlanta Beat, the area's Women's Professional Soccer expansion team, and the construction of a $16.5 million, 8,300-seat soccer stadium that could be expanded to 22,000 to accommodate football.

The soccer team's owner, Marietta resident Fitz Johnson, is a member of the Kennesaw State exploratory committee.

"I hope we can do it," Papp said. "My gut feeling is it's going to depend on finances."

And, with finances, it means being able to fund-raise for a football program and any necessary corporate support that a program might need.

Kennesaw State is currently in the second year of a five-year, $75 million fundraising drive for athletics - which just passed the $50 million mark - but none of that money will be funneled toward football.

"Football fundraising will be above and separate from that," Papp said.

In addition to his understanding of how a football program is constructed, name recognition for potential fundraising was one of the reasons bringing Dooley on board was so important.

"Let me underline the knowledge - multiple, multiple, multiple times," Papp said. "We've got a wonderful committee. We've got folks who have expertise on that committee from a variety of areas. But the expertise that coach Dooley has, that's what we need."

The 77-year-old Dooley, who will be spending three days a week on campus while chairing the committee, said he was, "Proud to be an Owl," and is excited to have an opportunity to serve in this capacity.

"The potential of launching a football program from the ground up is an intriguing challenge to me," said Dooley, who won 201 games in 25 season as Georgia's football coach. "And I cannot think of a better place to do that than at Kennesaw State. This is an exciting place to be. This is a university on the move."

Kennesaw State is currently the third-largest university in Georgia and the only one of the top five - Georgia, Georgia State, Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern are the other four - that does not have a football program.

The last of the other four to field a team, Georgia State will kickoff it's inaugural season next fall. The Panthers' program, and how it was built, will be one the committee will look at while going through the evaluation process.

Others programs may also provide a blueprint to Kennesaw State. Old Dominion University in Virginia started play this year as a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) program, while the established FCS program Georgia Southern just completed a study to determine whether it should rise to the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A).

East Tennessee State University, which disbanded its FCS-level football program following the 2003 season, launched its own exploratory committee to determine the viability of resuming the sport. In the end, however, the university determined it did not have the support needed to field a team.


 

A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu

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