Columbus State University Examining Future of Athletics, Including Football

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University will spend the next several months examining the current state of the athletic department and considering its future, including whether or not the university should add football and/or try to move into Division I.

A committee will work with Creative Marketing and Management — a Tuscaloosa, Ala.-firm led by former Troy University Athletic Director Johnny Williams — to learn more about what peer universities are doing, what costs are associated with such major athletic department moves, and what would be the benefits and drawbacks to changing divisions or adding football.

Columbus State University has added five sports over the past four years and currently fields 13 sports in the Division II Peach Belt Conference, with women’s volleyball starting in the fall 2013. CSU’s coed rifle program competes in Division I in the Ohio Valley Conference.

“Our athletic director, Jay Sparks, has assembled a wonderful team of faculty, staff and students to work with Creative Marketing and Management on the feasibility study,” said CSU President Tim Mescon. “We must, as a university, be keenly aware of the changing higher education landscape in Georgia and the region. With institutional consolidation, great changes are possible and, from a strategic perspective, Columbus State University must assess and review all possible options. Over the years, our university has twice conducted studies but never retaining outside counsel. Creative Marketing and Management has successfully worked with an extraordinary collection of universities across the country all evaluating similar alternatives. I fully anticipate that this study will provide the committee and the university with the facts and perspectives that we will need in order to make an educated decision about the future positioning of athletics at Columbus State University.”

As preliminary discussions have revealed, there are a lot of considerations to take into account, Mescon added, noting that it may take as long as six months for Creative Marketing and Management to finish its work.

As part of the study, Williams’ team will look at the CSU Cougars’ current facilities, staffing, fundraising, marketing, fan base and budgets. Then the firm will examine a wide range of issues centered on two main issues: 1) the feasibility of adding Division II football to the current athletic department, and 2) the feasibility of moving the athletic programs to Division I without adding football.

Numerous focus groups, on campus and off, will be consulted during the process.

“It is indeed exciting to be part of a process looking at the future of an athletic program that has already distinguished itself as first class,” Williams said. “Making any kind of major move in the future will have a multitude of repercussions, and the university is making the right move in studying everything carefully before any decision is made.”