Author of FBS study likes Georgia State’s position

Georgia State doesn’t need tradition to eventually succeed on college football’s highest levels, according to Russell Wright, the managing director of Collegiate Consulting, the Atlanta-based company that conducted an FBS feasibility study for the university.

Though the Panthers have played football as an FCS-level team for the past two years, including 3-8 last year, he said they have two things going for them: the university is based in Atlanta, the ninth-largest market in the country, and it has such a large student enrollment. Because the university has more than 30,000 students, more than $16 million of its $22 million in the revenues listed in the report come from student  fees. He said that financial support is an important plus, outweighing the barbs of those who have asked why Georgia State would conduct the study so soon after starting football. Athletic director Cheryl Levick has declined to comment on the study.

“The quality of competition doesn’t matter at all,” he said. “The market drives it more than the on-the-field product.”

Collegiate Consulting has produced almost 300 reports for colleges of various levels, from Dalton State and Georgia Highlands, schools that were starting sports, to Montana and Appalachian State, schools with established football programs. Wright said those reports usually fall into one of two categories: planning, including strategic planning, operational reviews and feasibility studies, and ticket sales.

Wright received a Masters degree in Sports Administration from Georgia State in 1996. He said neither that educational relationship nor his company’s geographic location caused the report to be written with rose-colored ink.

“When I was there it was pre-Lefty [Driesell],” he said, explaining some of the reasons for his objectivity. “If we don’t tell the brutal truth then we aren’t doing our jobs. That hurts our credibility.”

Wright’s company seems to like what Georgia State is doing.

As noted, he said the university is well-positioned should it receive an invitation to join another conference. The Panthers are currently members of the Colonial Athletic Association. They will begin their first  football season as an official member later this year.

The report notes that the Sun Belt, a conference based in the South, would be a natural fit because Georgia State’s revenues, expenses, staff sizes and salaries are comparable. Sun Belt incoming commissioner Karl Benson has said his conference may expand, but would prefer schools currently playing FBS (formerly Division I-A) football. Wright said Atlanta’s market size and Georgia State’s potential for growth could alter the decision-making process of expansion.

The report also included how Georgia State compares to schools in Conference USA and the Big East, considered one of the power conferences in college sports.

Conference USA and the Big East don’t seem like legitimate opportunities for Georgia State for a variety of reasons, according to the report.

Wright cautioned that should Georgia State receive an invitation from a conference such as the Sun Belt, it needs to approach its decision as if its next home will be its last. Some Georgia State fans have posted on this blog that the Sun Belt could be treated as a place-holder while revenues and facilities are improved until a more prestigious conference issues an invitation.

“They have to go in with the mindset of a long-term home,” he said, pointing out that the conferences have leverage with exit fees for leaving (the CAA’s is a minimum of $250,000). The NCAA also won’t allow schools to leave FCS unless they have already received an invitation from a FBS conference. “They had better be ready to commit.”

– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu

39 comments Add your comment


February 28th, 2012
10:21 pm

Nice Job Doug


February 28th, 2012
10:22 pm

GSU Men's BB Fan

February 28th, 2012
10:26 pm

Good read Doug. Thanks.


February 28th, 2012
10:30 pm

You do realize that this author WENT to Georgia State? Clearly skewed the numbers in their favor. Gonna be sad when they don’t go FBS and all the blame will fall on him.

Doug Roberson

February 28th, 2012
10:34 pm

I put that in the story, GT2009


February 28th, 2012
10:38 pm

Excellent information, Doug. Thanks for all the hard work.

@GT2009 Did you miss the whole section about how it’s NOT skewed even though he graduated from Georgia State? Or was it the section about our financials being on par with Sun Belt? You can’t skew a direct comparison.


February 28th, 2012
10:41 pm

Until the study is published, how can you know that the numbers aren’t skewed? I got to see a copy through a ROIA myself. Forecasting like what was done in the report certainly can be altered, leading to suggestions like how Georgia State would be a good fit in the Sun Belt. All I can say is, take a look at how much Georgia State spent on the study and well, you get what you pay for. Similar studies have cost nearly 10x as much. Wonder why he did this at a discount?

Doug Roberson

February 28th, 2012
10:49 pm

Feasability studies for $200k? Haven’t heard of any that expensive. As for the accuracy….the numbers may not be to the penny, but they are within the ballpark. When the report is finalized, i’ll update.

Panther Pride

February 28th, 2012
10:56 pm

Ok so how exactly are the numbers skewed?

I’m sure it is more than easy for anyone to do some research and find out how much Georgia State and Sun Belt members spend on athletics. What would be the point of lying about something that can be so easily looked up?

And the point made about G-State being in a large market and that helping their chances is definitely not skewed numbers either. Conferences aren’t looking for traditional football winners they are looking for large media markets because of money. Money has been the primary driving force to all of the conference realignment and many football traditions have suffered because of it.

I’m not necessarily seeing the part of the report that is skewed.

GSU is in Atlanta

February 28th, 2012
10:57 pm

Good work Doug and thanks for info.

GT fans are here now…Becker & Co. are definitely doing something right.


February 28th, 2012
11:01 pm

My main point- and certainly it is NOT meant to knock Georgia State, just trying to show you from an outside perspective what I can see- is that a lot of teams are doing these studies nowadays. I mean, Liberty University did an FBS study and they’re going nowhere. The ONLY team I see moving up from the FCS within the next 5 years would be Appalachian State. Other than that, it will be 5+ years before a team moves up. Louisiana Tech and Texas State will go to the Sun Belt as has already been reported and that will solidify their conference. Georgia State would be a good fit in that conference IF they had an established program- again, not a knock but just the truth. You guys are young and still trying to get your legs underneath you. All teams have been there. Give it some time, you’ll be in the big times soon enough.

Panther Pride

February 28th, 2012
11:26 pm

I could definitely see LA Tech heading to the Sun Belt since the conference has 2 teams in Louisiana already but I believe Texas State is already lined up to go to a different FBS conference. I’m not definite on this but I don’t think they’re going to the Sun Belt. South Alabama will join soon which will leave one spot if I’m right about the Texas State situation.

I still say Georgia State would get the nod over App State because of media market and potential revenue earnings. If G-State went FBS that would only help attendance (which was still top 10 or 15 the past two season without a winning team this previous season).

You could end up being right but I’m just not convinced yet (could be wishful thinking). But we’ll know sometime between the beginning of April and the end of May because the soon to be Sun Belt commish said he wouldn’t speak any further on potential expansion until he is officially the commissioner in early April and a school has until June 1st to accept any potential invitations from other conferences.


February 28th, 2012
11:31 pm

GT2009, I doubt you saw the study. How about you prove such drastic claims before talking smack first. Doug, are you able to pull (or merely ask) to verify his ROIA claim? I’m assuming since its all public they can divulge basic information about how many requests, etc.


February 28th, 2012
11:48 pm


You Scurred?!

Dont answer. We know. ;)

Appalachian State? LOL. Great, another realignment expert.


February 28th, 2012
11:56 pm

I like how people are questioning experts because it doesn’t suit their tastes. And yes, the firm is made of experts, thats why we pay money to get the information from them. Because they are educated and trained to do that job. GT2009, are you an expert in that field? And if not, what makes you believe that you know better than the experts?

Jerry Maguire

February 29th, 2012
12:02 am

Doug, Show me the money!!!!


February 29th, 2012
12:13 am

Very interesting news. Love the directions things are headed!


February 29th, 2012
12:39 am

Thanks Dougie Fresh.

Hope we get an invite…


February 29th, 2012
12:53 am

Haters Gon' Hate

February 29th, 2012
9:40 am

There will always be dissent. That’s ok. Overall, it feels like great things are happening at Georgia State – like the school and athletics programs are improving exponentially. So, let the skeptics say what they want; a lot of times, it is just insecurities.


February 29th, 2012
10:21 am

Important note here is “long term home.” Keep digging for more valuable info.


February 29th, 2012
10:23 am

Just need one question answered by the Athletic Administration before I mail my PAC Contribution and season ticket request (Topic: Family Zone vs. Red Zone package). Don’t care what happens because I will have season tickets to watch it unfold. Let the haters hate, but my check will be mixed in with the other $22 million. PAC call me or at least answer my email so I can pull the trigger and get this done today. Sorry to have to reach out on this forum.

Coach Curry

February 29th, 2012
10:44 am

Good news guys we just landed a new corporate sponser

Oops I craped my pants!

February 29th, 2012
11:07 am

We absolutely look at our next home as a long-term situation (though that has never been UCF’s M.O.), which is why we should shoot for the best available right now. If it is the Sun Belt, great, if not, we’d be foolish not to explore other opportunities.

Oh, and the hate from other schools on this one is classic: Losers Thread


February 29th, 2012
11:22 am

Texas State is in the WAC ready for 2012 play. UTSA is already slated to play WAC as well. This will be their second season.


February 29th, 2012
12:06 pm

Regardless of how long we are in a conference, to me it seems important that we move up this cycle. Obviously we want to be in the best possible conference, and right now that seems like it would probably be the alliance because of the quality of teams in there, but going straight there might just not be an option. If it isn’t, it’s important that we get picked up by someone, most likely the Sun Belt. That way we can start to build ourselves at the FBS level, make some noise in that conference, and then in the future we will be ready if anyone does want to bring us in.


February 29th, 2012
12:14 pm

Nice follow-up here. I’m loving watching this unfold.

BTW, the “long-term home” scenario is exactly why we need to make sure to get a move in now. Any of them, from the Sun Belt on “up,” look like great options. Yearly USA rivalry sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?


February 29th, 2012
12:20 pm

Stateside, yes it does. It would never get old beating them.

Thanks for all the updates Doug. This is fun.


February 29th, 2012
12:23 pm

Good job Doug. I can definitely see GSU committing at least 10 years. Plus, the Sun Belt is just better geographically.

Georgia Southern here

February 29th, 2012
12:25 pm

Congratulation Panther. Please Let GSU panther joins the Big East and see how they are doing.


February 29th, 2012
12:43 pm

Sun Belt is the best fit for Ga State…Ga State is a great addition to that conference


February 29th, 2012
1:36 pm

Good read! I appreciate the updates! Keep ‘em coming.


February 29th, 2012
1:37 pm

Question: If these reports are public, which schools have gone through this consulting process and have been recommended not to make moves forward, etc.?


February 29th, 2012
2:41 pm


Reports like this won’t say whether a school should or should not make the jump- that’s really up to the school’s and athletic department’s administration. What the reports do outline is the financial analysis of making the jump and what they feel a school will end up turning out like. Sometimes, the reports are very positive from a financial standpoint and teams still choose to remain FCS and vice-versa. It’s not as cut and dry as “Yes, you should move up” or “No, you should not move up”.


February 29th, 2012
3:35 pm

I do believe we’re in a good position regarding the alliance. Nobody is sure what the alliances next move is, and i’m sure that there will be movement between now and the date that we have to announce a move. The Sun Belt will almost certainly wait and see who the alliance is picking up before making any moves of their own, and so we can sit back and watch. Any movement by the alliance is likely to be in our favour at any rate.

Atlanta Mafia

February 29th, 2012
4:40 pm

We need an invite into the SunBelt in the next 45 days or we are gonna have a problem.


February 29th, 2012
5:04 pm

Great, we can focus on moving to FBS for the next few seasons while we rack up losing season after losing season, this is great! Hope no alumni money is going to this program


March 1st, 2012
12:27 pm

GaStateFootballLOLZ – what is your point exactly besides being negative? Any time we transition to FBS we struggle for a few years. Even if we were 6 time FCS national champions. Why not do it now why expectations are low for a new program?


March 2nd, 2012
10:12 am

I hope we move up. It will help us be attractive to recruits and we could compete in the SBC.