It’s been a few weeks coming, but Georgia State will officially join the Sun Belt beginning in the 2013-14 academic year, the school announced today.
“On behalf of the presidents and chancellors of the member institutions of the Sun Belt Conference, I am pleased to welcome Georgia State University home to the league that it helped start in 1976,” said Sun Belt Conference President and Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins in a statement. “The Sun Belt Conference has never been stronger athletically, academically or financially, and today we took action that makes us even stronger. For the Sun Belt Conference– the best is yet to be!”
Georgia State was a founding member of the Sun Belt Conference, but left the conference in 1981. The school began play in football in 2010 under head coach Bill Curry.
“The addition of Georgia State to the Sun Belt Conference provides further strength for our league and is the beginning of a new era for GSU that will unquestionably be a time of great success for the Panther athletic program,” added Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson. “We strongly believe that the addition of GSU will continue to help the Sun Belt Conference in its rise to prominence.”
The move has been worked through the rumor mill for the past several weeks. Upon taking over as SBC commissioner in February Benson said expansion would be one of his first priorities. Less than a week later, GSU announced it had hired a consulting group to explore the feasibility of a FBS jump. GSU is currently a member of the Colonial Athletic Association at the FCS level.
The announcement also comes as Conference USA and the Mountain West are exploring a merger. Though no official announcement has been made on that front, the MWC’s cable channel, “The Mtn”, has closed. A newly merged conference between C-USA and the MWC could also expand; several Sun Belt schools are expected to be targets of that expansion, including Middle Tennessee, FIU and North Texas.
Sun Belt member FAU said late last month it has not received an invite to any new conference.
Running a college athletics department is only getting more expensive, so attending a college football game will only get more expensive. Or, at least attending a Georgia game will.
Bulldogs president Jere Morehead and athletics director Greg McGarity revealed Thursday per-seat donations would rise an average of 17 percent for priority season ticket holders beginning in the 2017 season.
“It’s in anticipation of things that are ahead,” McGarity told the Athens Banner-Herald.
Cost-of-attendance scholarships bumped that line item up $766,000, and other costs across the department added an additional $5.3 million to the budget. All this while Georgia is building a new indoor facility and replacing Mark Richt and his staff while hiring Kirby Smart and his new staff.
“Those projects are going to be expensive,” Morehead said. “The cost of operating our athletic program each year continues to rise particularly as you look at the enhancements that are being provided to our student-athletes and to the support that we’re providing our student-athletes.”
The bump in prices will raise an extra $2.5 million for Georgia, and represents the first time Bulldogs fans have been asked to ante up since 2005.
“We wanted to be respectable in the increase to not price people out of a certain area but we did feel like we needed to make an adjustment,” said McGarity. “We want to continue to encourage people to come to games. We’ve got our work cut out to make sure (that happens).”
The Fighting Frites are heading to the Horseshoe.
Ohio State and Tulane announced a one-time game to be played in Columbus on Sept. 22, 2018.
“Tulane enhances and completes a non-conference schedule in 2018 that already includes Power 5 conference teams TCU and Oregon State,” Ohio State deputy AD Martin Jarmond said in a statement. “The Green Wave is part of a fine American Athletic Conference, which produced a New Year’s Day 6 bowl winner last year [Houston over Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl], so its first trip to Ohio Stadium should be exciting for our students and fans.”
The two teams have never met previously. Tulane last faced a Big Ten team on Sept. 27, 2014, a 31-6 loss at Rutgers. Ohio State last faced an American Athletic Conference program in the 2014 opener, a 34-17 Buckeyes win over Navy in Annapolis, Md.
“We are excited for the opportunity to play Ohio State, one of the premier programs in the country,” Tulane executive associate athletics director Brandon Macneill said in a statement. “Our coaching staff and players, along with our fans are eager to play against the very best and this should be a great game. There will be a significant number of Tulanians from around the country joining us at the Horseshoe.”
Adding Tulane completes Ohio State’s 2018 non-conference schedule; the Buckeyes host Oregon State on Sept. 1 and visit TCU on Sept. 15. Tulane still lacks two games for 2018 but is slated to visit Georgia Tech on Sept. 8.
The University of Georgia paid Ludacris $65,000 to perform a concert at Georgia’s spring football game, and now the athletics director is apologizing for catering to every demand made by the artist.
In a meeting with the Georgia athletic board of directors, athletics director Greg McGarity offered an apology for giving in to a lengthy list of demands from Ludacris, which included condoms and alcohol.
“I do want to take this opportunity to apologize to our board for mistakes we made with certain aspects of the details of an entertainment agreement,” McGarity said, according to The Athens Banner-Herald. “Few things in my professional life have bothered me more than this situation. There are no reruns in life so we need to turn the page, learn from our mistakes and do everything we can to make sure errors of this nature do not reoccur.”
Georgia set a school attendance record for its spring game with an estimated total of 93,000 fans coming out for the first spring game under new head coach Kirby Smart. Of course, more than a few of those fans were encouraged to come out to see Ludacris perform, so it all worked out well for Georgia even if some people were not happy with the goods supplied to him during his stay.
“Some more than others as far as different age groups,” McGarrity said of the people expressing their displeasure with Georgia’s hospitality. “It was all over the map. I think there were a lot of things that came into play.”
Auburn running back Roc Thomas is possibly looking to join one of the top programs from the FCS ranks. Reports today surfaced suggesting Thomas is looking to transfer to Jacksonville State, although another report says he has yet to ask Auburn for a request to transfer.
During a radio interview, Jay G. Tate of AuburnSports.com said Thomas is likely on his way to Jacksonville State…
As that message was spreading around the college football landscape, largely under the ominous storm cloud from Waco, Texas, SEC Country updated their report by saying Thomas has not yet made a request to transfer from Auburn. That may have been accurate, but may not suggest a transfer to Jacksonville State is off the table. It could just be a matter of semantics, where Thomas is set to join the Jacksonville State program but still must go through the formalities of transferring from Auburn.
Thomas does have two years of eligibility remaining.