Q&A with Cheryl Levick, part II

Here is the second part of an interview about the state of Georgia State sports with athletics director Cheryl Levick.

I interviewed Levick for about an hour in the conference room of her office.

For those who haven’t met her, Levick is very organized. She used a wipeboard to help with some of her answers so that I could clearly understand some of her points. She’s also very thoughtful, often thinking about her answers before she speaks.

A piece of news that I had heard bits and pieces of, but was able to piece together until Tuesday, is that R. Charles Loudermilk has donated $1 million toward the construction of a new weightlifting facility. There is no site plan or anything yet decided for that gift.

Here’s the first part, and it focuses on football.

Some questions and answers have been paraphrased. In some cases, similar topics were asked during different portions of the interview. Those topics have been grouped together.

Q: What are the top five projects, your goals?

A: My charge every year, there are four goals and everything spins off that:

No. 1, educate and graduate student-athletes.

No. 2, win championships.

No. 3, commit no major violations, and

No. 4, give back to the community.

From those four goals we have built a five-year strategic plan. From that plan we’ve got goals in every category: how do we win championships every year? How do we commit no major violations? How do we reach out and give back?

Under championships do we have the right coaches? Do we have the right recruits? Do we have the right facilities?

After you go through all of those, you decide if you have the right facilities. Last year was important because we finalized that strategic plan. Now we are taking those goals and putting them into a timeline, which we are doing right now.

At this point, just yesterday, we finished a two-hour meeting on fund-raising goals to match what we can do with facilities. How fast can we raise and how fast can we build? Clearly, a priority for us is to get sand volleyball ready to roll because of gender-equity and Title IX requirements.

But right after that we need to look at what we can do with basketball, what we can do with the Sports Arena to get it more updated and get more people in here and to sell Ron Hunter and his program like we want to and to sell Sharon and her program like we want to. So sand volleyball and the Sports Arena are two very important projects for us that fit within the goals we have established in our strategic plan.

Q: You mentioned building a downtown baseball stadium, is that an indication that you would like to move Panthersville closer to campus?

A: I would love to get every sport on campus if I could afford it.

Q: I assume you have studied how much that would cost?

A: We are working on how much that would cost because you have to find land down here to build the facilities so that you can determine the cost.

Q: What is the fundraising goal that you need to accomplish what is in your five-year strategic plan?

A: We are still working on the cost analysis for that. That’s part of what we are doing right now. We have a master facility plan and we have rough estimates on what each of those might cost. If indeed we are trying to move out of Panthersville down here, we need land. We are trying to look at if there are viable land options we can afford.

Q: What is the rough estimate?

A: If we build sand volleyball, redo the Sports Arena, move baseball downtown, move softball downtown, move soccer downtown, we are looking at a minimum of $80 million dollars without the cost of land. That’s an estimate.

We have a master plan for every sport.

We’ve done the cost analysis for renovating the Sports Arena. It’s cheaper to stay here and renovate the existing facility than try to move out.

The master plan has been approved. The next step is the funding model and then prioritizing. But if we have a big donor that comes up and says, “Cheryl, I want to build a baseball stadium downtown and I want to know how much it costs and I want to know a design for it,” we’ve got it.

Q: Do you have a rough estimate on the renovation of the Arena?

A: Yes, it’s about $37 million if we do luxury suites, ticket plaza, hall of fame, concourse, store, the works. Top of the line.

Q: Is the organization of the athletics association, is it being reconsidered?

A: Last year, as we took a look at the football program, we also took a look at our three governing committees for athletics. We reorganized them and made sure each knew their responsibilities.

We have the GSUAA, we have the faculty senate subcommittee on athletics and we have the PAC, which is fund-raising.

Before last year, the GSUAA and the PAC were combined. Now the the GSUAA is a 16-member group and chaired by President Becker. The faculty group is chaired by a faculty member and it looks at graduation rates, student-athlete welfare, compliance, drug-testing program, it monitors all the internal workings.

The PAC, the chair of this is a fan. He’s a donor but also a fan.

Last year, we spent a significant amount of time looking at each of the responsibilities and the bylaws and seeing what the functions should be. We completely rewrote the bylaws and they were approved by the board, reduced the size of the board to a 16-person working committee (from 32 to 35) and changed the chair from an outside alum chairing it to the president chairing it.

The committees are all great sizes. We divided it up among the three and really liked it. Before, sometimes the GSUAA was looking at grades and not raising money. Now, governance, big issues – do we want to go FBS, they would talk about it here, do we want to move out of Panthersville, they talk about it here (in the GSUAA).

The faculty group, they look at everything for the students. Are we doing the right things for tutorial services? NCAA compliance, do we have right checks and balances?

This group, the PAC, we want to have four major events, we want a kickoff luncheon for football, we want a breakfast for basketball, we want to have a big golf tournament, we want to raise x thousands of dollars, we want to have four thousand boosters by year whatever.

It works. We worked all last year to get the responsibilities aligned accordingly.

Q: Turning to basketball, what’s the next step for that program?

A: We have two new dynamic, exciting coaches. I can’t wait for them to have a full complement of their recruits and see how great they can be. Always want to make sure I have the best coaches I can find. We have two great coaches, want to make sure they have great recruits. While they are doing that, we are working on facility improvements. WE want to increase the fanbase for both those sports. We want to have this house packed and rocking.

Q: Last question, what’s been the most unique experience you’ve had with a fan since you got here?

A: Georgia State fans are very loyal and very appreciative. I’ll go back to an experience I have whenever I’m at a football game. I like to walk around and talk to people. Without fail, I’ll have an alum stop me. They always have their brand-new Georgia State T-shirt. They are often older, they will touch me on the shoulder and say, “Thank you for bringing football to Georgia State. We have waited for decades to have our own team, now we have one. It’s so great to sit in the stands and cheer for my alma mater.”

That reinforces, every time this happens, how important sport is in the total experience of university life. It just makes me proud that I’m able to contribute a little part in the history of Georgia State.

– Doug Roberson, AJC. Follow me on twitter @ajcgsu

42 comments Add your comment

No More

September 29th, 2011
7:52 am

Fire Levick!

GSU

September 29th, 2011
9:14 am

Thank you Cheryl. You started something great. Win or lose, live or on television, I love watching GSU play football. You should be proud of your achievements thus far. Most AD’s show up on a job in a sustain mode. You and Bill have had to create everything. Perfect example I was stationed in Oklahoma in ‘97 and know one I met had ever heard of GSU. Now everywhere just about every state I travel to they’ve heard of Ga State and show respect for Coach Curry and the challenge that he has taken on. Thanks you!

GSU = Georgia STATE University www.gsu.edu

September 29th, 2011
10:09 am

Cheryl gave political answers that were very boring and uninsightful.

GaStateChris

September 29th, 2011
10:15 am

Great stuff Doug. She confirmed that moving out of Panthersville is a priority. Something that had not been confirmed yet. That in and of itself is a great nugget.

GSU

September 29th, 2011
10:47 am

Thanks for the write-up Doug. CL needs to start a serious campaign to raise the $80 million for moving Panthersville and renovations because this is the first time a dollar-figure has been given. I wonder who are the members of GSUAA because FBS should always be a topic of discusion amongst other things of course.

Panama

September 29th, 2011
11:04 am

So we are talking $80 million without land acquisitions so you can say double it with land for a rough estimate. Cool, then get the renderings out in the community. Make them public and start selling this. I went the Houston game over the weekend and they have a two page spread in their game programs showing renderings of the proposed new football stadium and the basketball arena. Do they have the $165 million in hand? Nope. But that’s how you sell it. Houston is doing this. UAB is doing this. Marshall is doing this. Laying out a plan even if its conceptual excites the base. Lets get it.

GSU_2012

September 29th, 2011
12:05 pm

I agree Panama. Make some of these plans more open to the public. Even micro donations would be awesome. An idea would be something called the 1913 Club or something for students. Students voluntarily give $19.13 to this fund and get a t-shirt for the cause. This would create advertisement and investment at the same time. This can be open to the public also. $1 Million donations are awesome, but I think this could be an interesting idea.

Itsmeagain

September 29th, 2011
12:05 pm

The plans for the basketball arena really excite me. I am curious if we have a time line for this, it sounds as though that is one of the priorities (along with the sand volleyball courts). They don’t sound half arsed either.

Stateside

September 29th, 2011
12:24 pm

Good read.

Also, I love the idea of the 1913 club. I’d join.

Itsmeagain

September 29th, 2011
12:28 pm

I dunno. Kinda sounds like a strip club. In either situation is probably join

hammer22

September 29th, 2011
12:36 pm

Finally some transparency within the administration. I appreciate Levick being our AD. She’s doing a good job, but I honestly don’t know what goes on in that administration. Talking about potential plans and wants for GSU won’t change the laws of gravity Levick.

Kaleb

September 29th, 2011
1:07 pm

@GSU = Georgia STATE University http://www.gsu.edu

No one is as proud of a website as you are!!

RidgeRunner

September 29th, 2011
1:17 pm

Guys the Pres and AD we have now give us so much more insight than anything we ever had in the past. I think the discussions in the two Q&A’s would never have happened under the previous AD’s.

takerjw

September 29th, 2011
1:20 pm

I have a question why didn’t Ga st try to join the SoCon? To me it would be an ideal fit regionally.

Pride

September 29th, 2011
1:40 pm

I have a question. Why hasn’t Ga Southern jumped to the FBS or will it ever jump to the FBS?

takerjw

September 29th, 2011
1:46 pm

Boy you really can’t get Ga Southern off your mind can you? I didn’t say a word about Ga Southern and that’s what you say……. grow up son!

takerjw

September 29th, 2011
1:50 pm

I was just wondering about Ga St in the socon. Why are they not in the socon? To me I think it would create some great rivalries with Ga Southern, Chattanoga, and the others. Would you guys rather be in the socon or caa?

PrideTroll

September 29th, 2011
1:52 pm

Pride is by far the biggest Georgia State troll I have ever come across.

Itsmeagain

September 29th, 2011
2:05 pm

Why would GSU join a lower football conference than the conference in which it’s already a member. Best FCS conference, one of the best mid major basketball conferences. It would be stupid to move unless it’s up.

takerjw

September 29th, 2011
2:11 pm

i wouldn’t say the socon is a step down in football they are pretty even in football. I don’t know about basketball but c of c, davidson, and wofford are not bad programs in bball.

GaSoUn

September 29th, 2011
2:44 pm

Itsmeagain…hahahah. Check the ranking and check the championship history. Somebody from the SoCon is either at the top or next to it most of the time. Occasionally, another school has a good year and gets there, but it does not last. I wish GaState good fortune and I hope they get the program rolling. It will be good thing. Maybe if GaState meets their expectations, they will be a top tier school soon enough. Best wishes…and Turner Field is available for baseball since you guys like cavernous venues downtown for athletics. Think about it..

takerjw

September 29th, 2011
3:08 pm

I agree the socon the top conf for football in the fcs. Ga southern has 6 titles, app st 3, furman 1, and if you count marshall 2 more for 12 titles since fcs began in 1978. The caa has 5 and that is including all members past and present.

GSUPanther

September 29th, 2011
3:16 pm

Doug, interesting read!! Link below
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Page 3 of 3
Ms. Levick reviewed with the committee a draft of the Athletic Department’s Strategic Plan. The department waited for President Becker to provide the University community with the final version of the University’s Strategic Plan to make sure that the Athletics Strategic Plan aligned with it completely. This is the first time she has presented a draft of the plan to a constituent, other than the President. She noted that it is an aggressive plan but is also attainable.

http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwsen/committees/athletics/minutes/2010-2011/11-3-24.pdf

GSUPanther

September 29th, 2011
3:18 pm

“it is an aggressive plan but is also attainable”….hmmmm

Itsmeagain

September 29th, 2011
3:23 pm

The SEC schools also used to be part of the SoCon, does that make it the best conference for FCS?

Of course it doesn’t. You dont judge how good something is based on how it used to be, you judge something on how it is now. You wouldn’t go to a crap restaurant just because it used to be good would you? Now consider CAA football has only existed since 2005 and look at how much it has achieved since then. So no, SoCon is certainly not better than the CAA, at best it’s equal. And that’s only for football. Basketball, CAA is where it’s at.

takerjw

September 29th, 2011
3:42 pm

Ok so going by your logic of 05 then the socon has 3 and the caa has 2. I am refering to when I-AA football began in 1978 as a time frame. The caa as it is now is since 05 but it was the merging of the caa and the A-10 that created the caa football conf.

Itsmeagain

September 29th, 2011
4:24 pm

So what, we count any conference that the team may have participated in prior to the one it’s in now? Does it work the other way too? If thats the case I guess you could count all of Georgia’s and Georgia Techs national champ titles as well. Either way, as I said before, it doesn’t matter what happened in the past, only now. GSU isn’t joining the CAA from 2005 nor is it joining the A-10. It’s joining the CAA in 2012. Anything prior to that means nothing.

takerjw

September 29th, 2011
4:34 pm

Can you not read? I said FROM 1978 UNTIL NOW WHEN THE CURRENT FCS FORMAT WAS FORMED. I am only counting the current socon and caa teams. And if the past doesn’t matter then what has happpened since 05 shouldn’t matter. Ga southern is #1 right now. Basketball is even since what has happened in the past doesn’t matter.

Ummmmm

September 29th, 2011
4:44 pm

Who cares?!? Take the GSouth talk to Savannahnow.com!

itsmeagain

September 29th, 2011
5:21 pm

Wait… I’m arguing with trolls? Man, what was i thinking.
/thread

AgentOrange

September 29th, 2011
8:20 pm

1) Move Panthersville downtown
2) Renovate the Sports Arena
3) FBS.

That’s all you need to do Levick.

GSU2012

September 29th, 2011
11:47 pm

FBS! FBS! FBS!

Pride

September 30th, 2011
7:50 am

To pride troll
Why hasn’t Ga Southern jumped to the FBS or will it ever jump to the FBS?
Your just another Southern Douche Bag who refuses to answer the question.
After 30 years is there a plan at all to jump to the FBS?
Ga Southern Enrollment for Fall 2011 = 19,086
Here is a list of 2011 Enrollment for some FBS Schools:
University of Idaho = 12,312
University of Nevada = 17,679
UAB = 18,777
Boise State = 19,993

GSUEagle

September 30th, 2011
8:04 am

Pride, I’ve answered the question numerous times yet you still keep posting the same stuff. Once again, it is NOT about student enrollment. It takes a huge financial commitment to play FBS football, from things like donors, alumni and student contributions. Georgia Southern, while close to this level, is not there yet. Considering that Georgia State’s enrollment is higher than Georgia Southern’s, why didn’t Georgia State start in the FBS? That’s because it has NOTHING to do with student enrollment. Troll hard.

hammer22

September 30th, 2011
10:52 am

You can’t start off in FBS.

GSUEagle

September 30th, 2011
11:01 am

South Alabama and University of Texas – San Antonio are both starting off in FBS after being independents and not aligning with an FCS conference.

Panama

September 30th, 2011
11:37 am

If you had a business and found out that 85% of your target audience would buy your product if it had specific features, would you listen? Or would your answer be “Sorry, we are not thinking about those features yet; maybe someday. “

No More

September 30th, 2011
1:33 pm

Exactly Panama- we need someone with leadership and a vision. Fire Levick.

VSU Alumnus

September 30th, 2011
1:53 pm

I may be wrong,but if State had a good FCS team in the SoCon with reasonable ticket prices I bet you would average 25K to 30K fans in the dome.Those other teams are an easy ride from Atlanta and their fans would come. You would get a nice size gate if you hosted VSU.Think about it. Go Panthers and Blazers.

Panama

September 30th, 2011
4:12 pm

No offense VSUAlumnus but we now know what the attendance range is for a GSU game in the Dome. We know the base as an FCS school is about 10k to 12k. For a big game that may increase by 5k students and 5k walk up fans. For a monster game it will increase by 10k students and 10k walk up fans. But there is a limit to the number of fan who week to week will be interested in FCS when youre in the same orbit as GT and UGA. Week to week its closer to 14k By the way I am not advocating firing Levick or Becker. And remember these decision track up to your President No such thing as a autonomous AD.What I am saying is get on board. The base wants to see a big time program. They want to buy their merchandise online and be able to travel to big games. Mostly they want to know that that is at least where we are headed. People in this city will pay for an arena re-do and to bring Panthersville downtown if they know that your end game goal is the bigs at some point. People will not fill even the lower bowl of the Dome if what you’re selling is “hey we are happy to be in AAA ball and if we get to the bigs in 20 years by accident we will evaluate it then, but for now enjoy this game wih an NAIA opponent already in progress.” That will get you through the first couple of years but what do we do in year 4 or 5 when we are up against Tech/Miami and/or Georgia/SC?

GSU

September 30th, 2011
4:36 pm

I can’t wait to see what Charlotte does in terms of conference affiliation and announcements. If yet another school passes us by, I am officially off the MB and CL bandwagon. The only way to galvanize the alumni base is to have big aspirations, and FCS football won’t do it. But at this point we’re just preaching to the choir. CL has it all figured out. After all, she’s pulling in million dollar donations without FBS football.

And why is nothing fully ready to roll out? It’s always, “we are working on it.”

STATEment

October 1st, 2011
6:44 pm

FBS and facilities! ASAP! Have to take advantage of this window of opportunity!!!!