Georgia State could join Georgia Tech and Georgia as FBS playing members by 2014-15.
Georgia State’s athletics department commissioned a report that explores the expenses and revenues from moving from the FCS, where Georgia State currently plays, to the FBS, which features bowls games and the BCS. The report concludes that “GSU is well-positioned to make a transition to FBS” and “that the Sun Belt would be the best fit.” A copy of a draft of the report, along with the contract between Georgia State and the authors, Atlanta-based Collegiate Consulting, was obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution through the Freedom of Information Act. The report cost $20,000.
Athletic director Cheryl Levick said that no decisions have been made and that Georgia State hasn’t received any invitation from any conferences. She declined to comment on the details of the report, which focuses on the financial aspects if GSU were to be invited to join the Big East, Conference USA, Sun Belt, Mid-American or Western Athletic conferences. The Panthers are members of the Colonial Athletic Association. Georgia State will play its inaugural CAA schedule later this year.
“We are performing our due diligence to fully understand potential opportunities in the rapidly changing landscape of college athletics and particularly college football,” Levick said in a statement. “We will evaluate the information in the feasibility study to determine the best course of action for Georgia State.”
Schools that have been invited to join a conference that plays football on the FBS level must submit to the NCAA a strategic plan and pay a $5,000 fee by late May. A two-year probation period follows. If Georgia State were to accept an invitation from a FBS school, and the NCAA allows the transition, the Panthers could play in a bowl game by the 2014-15 season.
More than a dozen schools have conducted FBS feasibility studies within the past three years. Three of those schools — Massachusetts, Texas San Antonio and Texas State — have become new members of conferences that play FBS football.
Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson said last week that his conference is looking to expand, but prefers existing FBS schools.
Georgia State is well-positioned to move to the Sun Belt from a budgetary standpoint. Its projected $22 million in revenues in 2011-12 is 44 percent more than the average Sun Belt member, according to the report. However, the difference in those revenues can be traced to student fees: Georgia State receives more than $16.5 million compared to $5.6 million for an average Sun Belt school. The totals for the other schools and conferences are from previous years are being updated to give Georgia State the most accurate information.
The report recommends that if the Big East is Georgia State’s goal, it should follow the model set by two Florida schools.
“GSU would be an ideal candidate once it has moved to FBS and established itself in another conference, identical to the approach taken by UCF, South Florida, Boise State, etc., which have all recently joined the Big East.”
Georgia State’s revenues are almost $24 million less than the average Big East school, and 23 percent less than Conference USA.
“Institutional support would need to increase, but the primary increase would come from externally driven revenue from athletics,” according to the report.
Georgia State’s expenses of $22 million are almost $20 million less than what they would spend as members of the Big East in 2014-15. The biggest expense increase would fall to Sports and Administrative Operations, which includes travel, and other non-salary, non-scholarship related items.
Collegiate Consulting does not consider the WAC or MAC to “be viable membership options.”
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu