Updated: Georgia State well-positioned to move to FBS

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

268 comments Add your comment

Nick Bray

February 21st, 2012
1:22 pm

Panama

February 21st, 2012
1:23 pm

Yesssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss! Um…I mean…aww shucks

GStateBen

February 21st, 2012
1:25 pm

Raoul

February 21st, 2012
1:27 pm

Tony

February 21st, 2012
1:28 pm

Love ya’, Panthers … But if season 3 is anything like season 2, this series is likely up for cancellation.

Another David

February 21st, 2012
1:30 pm

That’s what I’m talking bout!

GSUdpb

February 21st, 2012
1:30 pm

Great news! I haven’t been this excited since GSU announced their feasibility study for adding football. Hopefully the outcome is the same.

Sluggo

February 21st, 2012
1:31 pm

Oh my. What an awesome piece of news!!!

glsjunior

February 21st, 2012
1:33 pm

PAC donation is in the mail!

GSUBB

February 21st, 2012
1:33 pm

Finally. Great news!

I love the CAA, but FCS just would not survive in the Atlanta market.

GSU_MEX_ALUM

February 21st, 2012
1:34 pm

Thanks for the heads up Doug!

[...] Georgia State University is exploring a move to FBS according the Doug Roberson of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. [...]

Truth

February 21st, 2012
1:36 pm

I’m not going to lie……there is some swelling in the jeans

ajg-marietta

February 21st, 2012
1:37 pm

Great reporting Doug!

GSU is in Atlanta

February 21st, 2012
1:38 pm

Awesome news!

Another PAC donation coming.

Truth

February 21st, 2012
1:38 pm

particularly in the area of the zipper……

GSUAlumBaseball81

February 21st, 2012
1:40 pm

That’s what I’m talking about!!!!!! AWESOME Thanks! Doug and GO GSU PANTHERS!!! Bring on BIG Donors now we’re going FBS baby!!!!!

GaStateChris

February 21st, 2012
1:49 pm

Just the beginning…

Jackson

February 21st, 2012
1:53 pm

So whats next? We still need an invite.

GStateBen

February 21st, 2012
1:55 pm

Invites are not extended publicly until all the Ts are crossed and Is are dotted.

For those who believe this was announced without an invite, you’re missing it.

We are NOT App State. Top 10 media market and desperately coveted by conferences like the Sun Belt. Don’t believe me? Go ask Karl Benson.

RidgeRunner

February 21st, 2012
2:05 pm

NOT THE SLUMBELT! We are better off staying where we are in the CAA. The slum conference is barely FBS, an inferior basketball conference, hardly any schools that look like us, and generally not academically accomplished. Taking a step backwards is not taking a step forward.

GSU is in Atlanta

February 21st, 2012
2:10 pm

Ridge, gotta disagree with you here. The CAA does nothing for us when it comes to building a fanbase and being able to travel to games. The CAA is relevant in the Mid-Atlantic, but not at all in the South, which is what matters.

Truth

February 21st, 2012
2:11 pm

RidgeRunner,

Not so fast. Expect Sunbelt to go after Charlotte, UTSA and La Tech. And, expect Sunbelt to go after CUSA teams that aren’t happy with the “Alliance” or whatever its called. We are at a critical point in this process and the door closes very soon.

Panama

February 21st, 2012
2:13 pm

Youre wrong Ridge. FIU has gone to two bowls in a row and beat a BEast team to start the season. Take a look at the new stadiums at North Texas and Florida Atlantic. Take a look at the coaching hires this offseason ( 3 listed on Top 25 Hires in College Football). It makes sense and as Doug’s report indicates, you have to crawl before you walk. You do not get invited from a Power 6 conference from FCS/I-AA. There are at least 5 schools that look just like us, i.e. urban downtown schools.

Panthersville.com

February 21st, 2012
2:19 pm

Excellent news…..now where are all those GaSo fans who refused to admit what was coming down the pike?

GaSouthernFan

February 21st, 2012
2:22 pm

Georgia Southern did this years ago. Have fun when the report says that you’re not suited to move up.

GSUBB

February 21st, 2012
2:22 pm

I am glad President Becker is not as short sighted as Ridgerunner. RR, stop thinking small man, it is just one step in a long journey.

RidgeRunner

February 21st, 2012
2:22 pm

Looks like we will just have to agree we do not agree. Don’t think there is any chance of building a quality brand joining SB. Even if some teams do go to a bowl, they are rarely anything close to major bowl. There is more to a conference move than football.

GSUGrad06

February 21st, 2012
2:24 pm

Hey GaSouthernFan – The report already says this…

“GSU is well-positioned to make a transition to the FBS.”

GSUBB

February 21st, 2012
2:26 pm

I guess I will take the advice from the consulting firm that advises FBS-AQ schools and conferences over an AJC commenter.

glsjunior

February 21st, 2012
2:26 pm

Ridgerunner, The difference is that now the big school have to play us in a home at home, or pay us a million bucks instead of 400k. We also get more TV exposure, bowl opportunities and better shot at good recruits.

Panama

February 21st, 2012
2:29 pm

Ridge, go check out UTSA’s future OOC schedules. They are playing B12, MWC and ACC schools at home because they play in a major market, big AQ quality stadium and are going FBS. Sound familiar? Smile, we’re about to have fun. And I can think of worse away trips than Miami, Mobile, Boca, Nashville and Dallas

GaSouthernFan

February 21st, 2012
2:31 pm

Where’s the report? I’m not trying to undermine it but seriously, anyone have a link to it?

Panama

February 21st, 2012
2:33 pm

I doubt its online. I think Doug obtained a copy and asked our AD about it.

RidgeRunner

February 21st, 2012
2:34 pm

GSUBB a FBS-AQ would be find. SB is not such a conference. The consultant said there was a fit but also there could be a fit for BE. Saying that indicates to me that there could be some better options. There are more questions to ask about the consultant/GSU contacts for us to make a better analysis if they are in the ball park.

for SB, our basketball recruiting will take a hit going to a less competitive conference and I bet that the quality of football recruits will hardly change (is is apart from our lousy showing this year). FBS in name only makes a the lowest form of FBS. I think it is the wrong direction. Take time, build for membership in a conference like BE or better.

glsjunior does make a good point.

GSU is in Atlanta

February 21st, 2012
2:36 pm

@GaSouthernFan, you will have to obtain it the same way that Doug did.

GSU is in Atlanta

February 21st, 2012
2:39 pm

RR, there is no way that a AQ conference would ever ask an FCS team to join. You have to work your way up, it is as simple as that. We would have to follow the paths of UCF and USF to move to the Big East.

Waycross Wizard

February 21st, 2012
2:40 pm

Doug, I cannot thank you enough for doing your due diligence in following up on this story. It is MUCH appreciated!
GO PANTHERS!!!

Sluggo

February 21st, 2012
2:49 pm

Thanks again Doug for breaking this story!

There will not be a jump from FCS to BCS, period. Will we ever reach that stage? Perhaps. But as the study suggests, start in the SunBelt and build a program much like Boise State and South Florida.

steve

February 21st, 2012
3:03 pm

Why move up when you have not had any success at the IAA level? That does not make sense.

I’m a Georgia Southern alum who hopes the other GSU never moves up. That has been rumored for years. Personally, I am very happy at the IAA level. Quality football and a playoff system without all the garbage that seems inevitable at the higher level. If I was at Georgia State I would not be so anxious to move up. Give it some time.

Panama

February 21st, 2012
3:05 pm

Steve

Buh Bye

Gerald

February 21st, 2012
3:11 pm

RidgeRunner:

If the Sun Belt is less competitive in basketball than the CAA, then joining the Sun Belt will help because it increases GSU’s chances of winning that league and getting into the NCAA tournament.

Bottom line: this is the Deep South. No matter how good their academics are, it is impossible for a public university in the Deep South to be taken seriously unless it has a football program. GSU is behind and esteemed less than younger universities like USF, UCF and Southern Miss merely because those schools have major football programs than GSU doesn’t.

Also, GSU probably won’t be in the Sun Belt for long. Because of the Atlanta TV and recruiting markets, it won’t be long before C-USA or the Big East comes calling. Bottom line: this is great news for folks furious at the long line of great Georgia athletes leaving the state because UGA doesn’t have enough room and Georgia Tech has a guy who prefers out of state 3 star recruits to in-state ones. California, Texas, Florida, Michigan and Ohio all have multiple mid-major programs. Even smaller states like North Carolina and Alabama have them. This will only increase the number of Georgia kids who get FBS scholarships. Now all we need is for Georgia Southern to stop dithering and follow suit or else KSU will beat them to the punch. If Alabama can have two majors (Auburn, Alabama) and 2 mid-majors (Troy, UAB) then so can Georgia.

But this is bad news for Georgia Tech. First UGA gets engineering programs, now this. GT REALLY needs to start minding the store, because stuff is flying off the shelves!

louis kurz, Esq.

February 21st, 2012
3:11 pm

I am not so sure this is a good idea. While Georgia is indeed underserved when it comes to Division I-FBS teams per capita (only two in the state, vs four in Alabama, which has half our population) I am skeptical that the GSU fan base has yet demonstrated a willingness to support the team at such a level.

GASouthernFan

February 21st, 2012
3:12 pm

Hey GSUgrad06. Should Ga State win at least 10 games (total) before you consider to move up. GSU will get their butts kick playing the CAA teams. How do you think your gonna do in the FBS?. I really wish GS & GSU would play each in the next 4 yrs… Heck you can even play in the Ga Dome, GS will out draw you in your owe house. GSU wins this yr will be 2-9. good luck

cb

February 21st, 2012
3:14 pm

I am a Georgia Southern Alum and I find this somewhat hard to believe. I have read the Eagles’ Div 1 feasibility study and the requirements to move to that level are steep. They are very $teep. So, it seems odd that a program that is barely three years old is “well-positioned” for the move. If you follow the rise of the CAA program, Old Dominion, you can see they have wildly devout alumni support and are in an area that is very wealthy. I just don’t see the Panthers having a similar foundation. They seem far away from such a jump.

If it happens, then I will be very interested in seeing how it works out for ya’ll. Don’t mess around and be like the Rattlers.

ATLhoho

February 21st, 2012
3:15 pm

Georgia State has a football team???

GSUBB

February 21st, 2012
3:15 pm

Steve, is that what Southern said? Give it some time… now 20 plus years later….

Conferences are not going to wait for us to be dominate in the FCS level. Now does it matter if we are. FCS wins does not translate to success in FBS or vice versus. There are numerous examples out there.

Top 10 media market. 30K Students. Top 5 recruiting grounds. It all adds up to FBS. Look at our Football facilities and budget. None of it is FCS level.

I agree IAA is perfect for Southern. Not GSU however.

Jiffenheimer

February 21st, 2012
3:15 pm

Rats! I was hoping KSU would beat them to the punch.

TherealGSU

February 21st, 2012
3:17 pm

If the CAA was so bad for you why didnt you join the Southern Conference? Scared of GSU, Wofford and APPY?…probably…Think you’ll actually win at the I-A level…doubt it if you have trouble knocking off Division II schools like history shows. You really have that much revenue? Play Southern in the Dome and we’ll double it in one game when we fill the place up, just ask Wofford who is 4 hours from Statesboro…

Best of luck continuing your losing tradition at the next level…

TimberGA

February 21st, 2012
3:18 pm

Hey GASouthernFan…..you obviously have no grip on how moving up works. We are a brand new young team, but have a VERY ATTRACTIVE media market and HUGE potential. Statesboro has what, cow pastures and an inept administration? Get over yourself and your team. You aren’t moving up, we are. Doesn’t matter how many flags you have in this game, its more about market and potential.