TOUCHDOWN! Kennesaw State University to start football program in 2015
Fifth Third Bank signs on as major sponsor; receives naming rights to KSU Stadium
(Feb 14, 2013) —
Fifth Third Bank signs on as major sponsor; receives naming rights to KSU Stadium
KENNESAW, Ga. (Feb. 14, 2013) — Kennesaw State University scored its first touchdown on Wednesday when the Board
of Regents of the University System of Georgia voted to approve the University’s request
to add football to its 17-sport NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletics program.
Kennesaw State university officials anticipate that 2015 will be the team’s first
year of competition.
“This is an exciting day for Kennesaw State and a milestone that is the culmination
of the hard work and support from many individuals on and off campus,” said Kennesaw
State President Daniel S. Papp. “We want to thank the regents for their continued
support of the vision we share for the University. The addition of football at Kennesaw
State will help bring positive national recognition to the University and strengthen
the sense of pride and connection among students, alumni, and the community-at-large.”
A major source of funding for the football program will come from a stadium naming
rights partnership with Fifth Third Bank, an Ohio-based company with more than 1,300
locations throughout the country. Through a multi-million dollar, multi-year sponsorship
agreement with the Georgia regional office, KSU Stadium will become Fifth Third Bank
Stadium. Renovations to the 8,300-seat stadium, which currently hosts the Owl"s soccer
and lacrosse teams, will be made prior to the football team’s inaugural season.
“With this partnership we have the unique opportunity to support the growth of Kennesaw
State University and the Athletics program to form a long-term relationship with the
community and to reach and interact with customers and prospects,” said Randolph Koporc,
president of Fifth Third Bank (Georgia).
In the plan presented Wednesday to the Board of Regents, Papp and Kennesaw State Director
of Athletics Vaughn Williams provided a detailed business plan outlining start-up
and operating expenses for the football program, Title IX considerations and revenue
projections for the next six years. Papp and Williams also outlined the steps the
University has made towards securing support for football among its students, faculty,
staff, alumni and the community. The two university officials also provided the rationale
for beginning a football program at Kennesaw State, focusing on the benefits to current
and prospective students, national recognition for the university, and enhanced engagement
with alumni and the community.
“This is a great day for Kennesaw State University, and another step in the tremendous
growth this university is experiencing,” Williams said. “It is important for us to
acknowledge all of those who made this day possible, and there are many who supported
our dream to bring football to this campus. Personally, I want to thank Dr. Papp
and Vince Dooley for giving me the opportunity to be a part of it. We still have a
lot of work ahead of us, but for now we celebrate and begin the countdown to kick
off in 2015.”
A national search is currently underway to hire a head coach and plans are to announce
an initial signing class in February 2014. Kennesaw State will compete in the NCAA
Football Championship Subdivision (FCS/formerly Division I-AA). Currently a member
of the Atlantic Sun Conference, the University also will explore its conference options
since the A-Sun currently does not sponsor football.
Yesterday’s approval by the Board of Regents completed the final step in a six-year
process of studies, student voting and fundraising aimed at bringing NCAA Division
I football to the state’s third-largest university. The possibility of bringing football
to Kennesaw State has been a detailed and steady process that initially began in March
2006, when the Kennesaw State University Foundation contracted with Turner & Associates
to conduct a feasibility study about the future of Kennesaw State’s athletics program.
The study, published in June 2007, focused on the University’s readiness for a capital
campaign to help support the growth of athletics. Among its findings was the determination
that the addition of football would “significantly enhance KSU’s prestige, visibility
and fund-raising potential.”
In December 2009, Papp appointed a 33-member Football Exploratory Committee, chaired
by legendary University of Georgia football coach and athletic director Vince Dooley,
to look more closely at the possibilities and implications of establishing a football
program at KSU. The committee announced its findings in September 2010, and concluded
that there was solid support for a collegiate football program at Kennesaw State.
The committee also cited the need for external funding sources.
“It is an honor to be a part of Kennesaw State’s journey toward starting a football
program,” said Dooley. “Historically, football has defined the unique culture of an
institution through its proud colors, mascot, songs, and traditions. In my experience,
football provides a sense of pride and point of connection to a broad audience of
supporters in the community and around the state. I am excited for the next chapter
in Kennesaw State Athletics and look forward to being a part of it in any way that
Following the exploratory committee’s recommendation, KSU’s Student Government Association
(SGA) and the Office of the Vice President for Student Success in November 2010 conducted
an SGA-led vote to assess the level of student support for a fee of $100 per student/per
semester to initiate a football program and additional Title IX women’s sports at
KSU. The students voted to support the fee request. In October 2012, the KSU Student
Fee Committee then voted to support the fee increase request, allowing Papp to move
forward with a formal request to the Board of Regents.
“Throughout the process, Dr. Papp has been resolute about making sure students were
actively engaged, giving them the chance to voice their opinions and ask questions
regarding football and its impact,” said Vice President for Student Success Jerome
Ratchford. “Ultimately, their decision to support football is what made this a reality
– and their excitement and enthusiasm for Kennesaw State is what makes this University
second to none.”
The intercollegiate athletics program at Kennesaw State was launched in 1983. The
school competed in six sports — women’s basketball, men’s soccer, men’s and women’s
cross country, and men’s and women’s track and field — as a member of the National
Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Kennesaw State moved to the NCAA
Division II level and joined the Peach Belt Conference in the fall of 1994. The program
experienced immediate success, winning back-to-back softball national titles in 1995
and 1996 and a baseball national championship in 1996. In fall 2005, Kennesaw State
University transitioned to NCAA Division I joining the Atlantic Sun Conference.
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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more
than 80 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 student population of more than 24,600 from 130 countries.
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-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 126 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. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.