Archive for April, 2012

Part II of Q&A with GSU’s Ron Hunter, and a bit about softball’s big night

Georgia State coach Ron Hunter was finally cleared to talk to reporters (that’s a joke, kind of) after having hip replacement surgery on April 6.

A few things happened while he was recuperating, notably the Panthers joined the Sun Belt Conference. They will begin play in 2013, giving Hunter one more year in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Hunter, usually funny, always confident and brutally honest, offered his thoughts on the move, negative recruiting tactics, last year’s team, and the one player that he forgot to tell about the pending conference change. Here’s Part II. Part I was posted yesterday. (Questions and answers have been paraphrased)

First, Georgia State softball team scored the biggest win in athletics department history when it defeated No. 2 Alabama 5-1 last night. That’s the highest-ranked team any GSU squad has ever beaten in any sport. Kaitlyn Medlam tossed 3 1/3 innings of no-hit relief and Callie Alford drove in two runs for the …

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Q&A with GSU coach Ron Hunter, part I

Georgia State coach Ron Hunter was finally cleared to talk to reporters (that’s a joke, kind of) after having hip replacement surgery on April 6.

A few things happened while he was recuperating, notably the Panthers joined the Sun Belt Conference. They will begin play in 2013, giving Hunter one more year in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Hunter, usually funny, always confident and brutally honest, offered his thoughts on the move, negative recruiting tactics, last year’s team, and the one player that he forgot to tell about the pending conference change. I’ll post part II in the morning. (Questions and answers have been paraphrased)

Q: How’s your hip?

A: I’m not on house arrest, so I can come to the office for a couple of hours. I came in for 90 minutes yesterday and a couple of hours today.

Q: Did they replace it with plastic or titanium?

A: Titanium, they replaced the whole deal. They said it will make me a better golfer [laughs].

Q: I was told that you were going to …

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GSU could save $150k in football travel in Sun Belt

Georgia State projects an estimated savings of $150,000 in annual football travel costs once it joins the Sun Belt Conference in 2013.

The Panthers announced last week that they are leaving the Colonial Athletic Association, their home since 2005, and will join the Sun Belt in the summer of 2013. The reasons include the opportunity to play football on the FBS level, increased revenue from regional rivalries and, among the minor reasons, travel savings. The CAA spreads from Atlanta to Maine in football, and Atlanta to Boston in basketball. The geographic footprint raises travel costs for all teams.

The Sun Belt is based mostly in the South, with several schools within a five-hour drive from Atlanta. There are no CAA schools that close.

The Panthers athletic department projects a cost of $360,400 for four road games in the Colonial Athletic Association this season. The road games are William and Mary (578 miles), Rhode Island (1,039 miles), James Madison (447  miles) and Maine …

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Buckner honored by CollegeInsider.com all-america team

Georgia State center Eric Buckner was named to the 2012 CollegeInsider.com mid-major defensive all-america team today.

Buckner blocked a school-record 118 shots, averaging 3.4 per game. It was the sixth-highest total in Colonial Athletic Association history. Buckner, a senior, also averaged 7.1 rebounds per game in helping the Panthers win 22 games under first-year coach Ron Hunter.

The team:

Tommy Brenton, 6-5, Jr., Stony Brook

Rhamel Brown, 6-6, So., Manhattan

Eric Buckner, 6-10, Sr. Georgia State

Will Cherry,6-1, Jr., Montana

Ceola Clark III, 6-3, Sr., Western Illinois

Ian Clark, 6-3, Jr., Belmont

Bryan Cohen,  6-6, Sr., Bucknell

Damian Eargle, 6-7,  Jr., Youngstown State

Gregory Echenique, 6-9, Jr., Creighton

Jamelle Hagins, 6-8, Jr., Delaware

Trevon Harmon, 6-1, Sr., Cleveland State

Eli Holman, 6-10,  Sr., Detroit

Jewuan Long, 6-1, Sr., Murray State

Kelvin Martin, 6-5, Sr., Charleston Southern

William Mosley, 6-7, Sr., Northwestern State

Toure’ Murry, 6-5, Sr., Wichita …

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A little bit of the backstory about the GSU-FBS slip

First, I’m doing a twitter mailbag @ajgsu to answer any questions you might have about Georgia State’s move to the Sun Belt. Please send as many questions as you have and I’ll try to answer them.

During the Sun Belt press conference yesterday, Georgia State athletic director Cheryl Levick and Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson were asked about the timeline of the move.

During their answer, Levick and Benson seemed to disagree on who called who first.

Here’s what happened.

But before I finish this short story, I need to point out a couple of dates:

  • Georgia State signed a contract with Collegiate Consulting on Nov. 1 to analyze Georgia State’s future on the FCS and FBS levels.
  • A draft of the report was given to Georgia State on Feb. 3.
  • Benson was officially announced as the Sun Belt Commissioner as Feb. 15.
  • On Feb. 17  Benson told the “Barnhart and Durham show” show on 790AM that he was aware of Georgia State’s aspirations to move up to the FBS level. He called Levick later …

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Georgia State compared to the rest of the Sun Belt schools

How does Georgia State compare to the other schools in the Sun Belt?

With a lot of help from the Sun Belt’s sports information department, here are some comparative stats, and some other basic information for those already in the conference.

Georgia State

Location: Atlanta

Undergraduate enrollment: 22,500

Joining the SBC: 2013

Nickname: Panthers

Sports: Football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, softball, baseball, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, men’s cross country, women’s cross country, women’s sand volleyball, men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, men’s track and field, women’s track and field

Athletic department budget: $19.5 million (2010 fiscal year)

APR (2010-11): Men’s basketball (946), women’s basketball (953), baseball (963)

RPI (2012): Men’s basketball (136), women’s basketball (248), baseball (119 in 2011)

Arkansas-Little Rock

Location: Little Rock, Ark.

Undergraduate enrollment: 5,793 (2011; rest of schools are 2011)

Joined the SBC: …

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Georgia State is officially in the Sun Belt Conference

Georgia State is back where it started.

The Panthers officially announced on Monday that they have joined the Sun Belt Conference, which they helped found in 1976 but left five years later. The move is driven by Georgia State’s desire to reap the financial rewards of playing football on the FBS level and the expected of increase in ticket sales that more natural geographic rivalries can generate.

Georgia State will finish its last season as members of the Colonial Athletic Association in 2012-13 and officially join the Sun Belt in July 2013. The Panthers will be immediately eligible to compete for championships in all sports.

“Welcome home,” Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr., chancellor of Troy University and Sun Belt Conference president, told GSU president Dr. Mark Becker.

The decision to leave the CAA, considered one of the best mid-major conferences in basketball and a power in FCS football, is driven mostly by money, both revenues and expenses. Sun Belt teams …

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A few nuts and bolts about the Sun Belt Conference

Georgia State is hosting a 2 p.m. press conference today to announce that it has agreed to join the Sun Belt Conference in 2013.

Here are a few basic facts about the Sun Belt, starting with the fact that it’s two words: Sun Belt, not Sunbelt.

Sun Belt Conference

Though there may be more changes between now and when Georgia State joins in 2013, the members of the Sun Belt Conference are:

Arkansas State

Arkansas-Little Rock

Denver*

Florida Atlantic

Florida International

Louisiana-Lafayette

Louisiana-Monroe

Middle Tennessee

North Texas

South Alabama

Troy

Western Kentucky

Denver is leaving after the 2012-13 season.

History of the Sun Belt Conference

Georgia State was a charter member of the Sun Belt, along with New Orleans, South Alabama, Jacksonville, North Carolina-Charlotte and South Florida. Georgia State left to join the Trans America Athletic Conference in 1981. That conference eventually changed its name to the Atlantic Sun. Georgia State left it to join the CAA in …

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Georgia State has accepted an invitation to join Sun Belt

Georgia State has accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference, a person inside the conference with knowledge of the situation said on Saturday. They will become members in 2013.

Georgia State declined to comment. The university was contacting donors on Saturday, asking them to attend a special event at 2 p.m. Monday at the Georgia Dome.

Timing might be critical because the Colonial Athletic Association, Georgia State’s home since 2005, is expected to vote Tuesday to increase its exit fees from $250,000 to $1 million. An email to the CAA, asking if Georgia State has resigned, hasn’t been answered.

Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson confirmed Friday he will meet with Georgia State president Mark Becker and athletic director Cheryl Levick on Monday in Atlanta to discuss the possibility of membership in his conference.

The decision to leave the CAA, considered one of the best mid-major conferences in basketball and a power in FCS football, is driven mostly by money, …

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GSU says no comment about Sun Belt announcement set for Monday

Georgia State is calling some of its donors to invite them to a 2 p.m. press conference scheduled for Monday at the Georgia Dome. The press conference will presumably focus on the Sun Belt Conference. Panthertalk.com reported Saturday that donors are being told the press conference will  be “life-changing for the athletics department.”

Karl Benson, the conference’s commissioner, said on Friday that he will be at Georgia State on Monday to discuss conference membership with university president Mark Becker and  athletic director Cheryl Levick. A text to Benson on Saturday hasn’t been returned. A Georgia State spokesperson declined to comment.

– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter

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