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Southern Boosters changing its name
Now known as the Georgia Southern Athletic Foundation, Inc.
W EagleFund1
The new logo for the Athletic Foundation is shown.
      A name that is synonymous with Georgia Southern football and its winning tradition is about to change. Southern Boosters, Inc., the fund raising arm of Georgia Southern University athletics, is now the Georgia Southern Athletic Foundation, Inc.
       "In 1997 during one of our meetings, it was Coach Erk Russell that suggested it was time to change the organization's name," said John Mulherin, president of the Georgia Southern Athletic Foundation (GSAF). "The 'booster' model was the prevalent athletic fund raising model that was being used when the organization was founded in 1982. Times have changed and the word booster has developed a sort of a negative connotation throughout college athletics."
       The Southern Boosters' Board of Directors voted unanimously to change the organization's name during their January 2009 meeting. According to Mulherin, the name change is designed to more clearly communicate the organization's purpose and mission as a fundraising and supporting organization of intercollegiate athletics at Georgia Southern, or in his own words, "marketing 101."
       "When we approach potential donors and corporations, this new name will reinforce our focus on supporting the entire athletic operation including philanthropy, scholarships and donor benefits," he said.
       The annual fundraising campaign will now be called "The Eagle Fund." The name change is part of an ongoing branding initiative that the organization's leadership and Board of Directors have been researching for nearly two years. The initiative began when the organization launched the popular "Rings and Diplomas" and "For All the Right Reasons" campaigns in 2007.
       "Our donors are the most important aspect of our organization, and I know they will support this change as they have supported the Eagles over these many years," said Sam Baker, athletic director for Georgia Southern University. "Regardless of the name, this organization is made up of some of the most loyal and die hard supporters of athletics that I have seen in my career. With this new name, the organization is positioning itself for future growth."
       Mulherin said the name changing process began with a survey conducted in 2007. "We conducted an extensive survey of our membership and supporters regarding a new identity for Southern Boosters, and this was the name that came out on top," he said.   "The name will be consistent with other GSU foundations including the Georgia Southern University Foundation, the Georgia Southern Housing Foundation, Inc., and the Georgia Southern University Research Foundation, Inc."
       Mulherin said the overall name change will address concerns generated by the old name. "We found that the name Southern Boosters was not recognizable outside of our immediate area. We felt like the organization would benefit immensely from a name that is descriptive of what it does and who it does it for."
       For those of you who may not know, the GSAF raised over $2,000,000 last year of which 78 percent went directly into Georgia Southern's athletic budget for scholarships, equipment, operating costs.
       "The cost of funding athletes/athletics - from equipment to travel to books and tuition - continues to go up," Mulherin said. "We have to fund these costs ourselves through donations, game day parking fees, etc. That is why we felt it was so important to market and brand ourselves accordingly."
       The GSAF supports each of Georgia Southern's 15 intercollegiate sports and its more than 385 student athletes.
       "We provide critical scholarships and facility improvements necessary to continue recruiting outstanding student athletes and coaches to Georgia Southern," Mulherin said. "Economically, these are tough times for everyone, including those of us in the fundraising business, but it is something that we have to do to keep our athletic program going in the right direction."
       The irony of it all - funding amateur sports is not a game, it is important business in which branding plays a major role.