By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Voting on GSU Athletics set to begin today

Your move, GSU students.

Beginning today, Georgia Southern students are voting on three proposed fees — Athletic Facility Expansion ($25 per semester for adding 6,200 seats to Paulson Stadium), FBS Athletics Operations ($75 per semester that would only be charged if and when GSU receives and accepts an invitation to a Football Bowl Subdivision athletics conference) and Sustainability ($10 per semester for GSU’s sustainability and green initiatives).

The sustainability fee is beneficial, cheap, and will probably pass.

The other two – those will determine the future of Georgia Southern University.

It sounds dramatic, but those two votes, without hyperbole, will impact GSU’s perception, status, research and quality of education. Permanently.

They could also possibly have huge implications on the community’s economy. Bigger competition means bigger crowds, and bigger crowds means more money.

There are two primary arguments against the fees, and they’re simple.

There’s the money argument, and there’s the "small fish in a big pond" argument.

First off, college is expensive, so why vote for more fees? The price of an education goes up year after year after year. Here’s a case of the students having the opportunity to save a little bit of money by voting — $110 per semester to be exact.

That’s the argument for students who don’t care for football.

For the ones that do, well, it comes down to success on the field. Georgia Southern is the single-most decorated program in FCS/Division I-AA history. Where the program is now, it has the fan base, the resources and the talent to compete for more national championships, year-in and year-out.

If the Eagles go FBS, they won’t be able to compete for national titles any more.

Those are both fair, reasonable arguments.

But, let’s look at the landscape of college football.

The fact of the matter is that GSU hasn’t won a national championship in more than 10 years. Georgia Tech hasn’t won a national championship in more than 20. The Georgia Bulldogs haven’t won one in more than 30.

Yet, they all remain competitive, and UGA remains one of the most popular college football programs in the country.

OK, so maybe it’s not about winning national titles, necessarily, but the potential for national titles. Georgia is pretty much always in the Top 25, and spends an awful lot of time in the Top 10. Georgia Tech would have a much tougher path to the BCS national championship, but a dominant, undefeated season with an ACC championship could still theoretically put it there.

Georgia Southern is an obvious title contender in the FCS, and wouldn’t be for the foreseeable future in the FBS if it moved up.

Is that reason enough to vote "no"?

Based on the popularity of even the lowliest Bowl games versus the FCS national championship, the answer to that question is, frankly, no.

To put it another way, go ask Boise State fans if they would trade their win over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl for an FCS national championship. My guess is that 100 out of 100 would say, "No thanks."

Georgia Southern students who are football fans have to decide if they’ve got a good enough thing going right now, in the FCS.

As for non-football fans at GSU, they could care less about spending even more money on something they have no interest in.

Why would they want to spend more money on football when there are so many other things — buildings, resources, faculty, the list goes on and on — that could use more financing?

The state of affairs is tough, but it’s not like spending less on athletics would mean spending more on everything else.

And, even if a student never attends a sporting event while at GSU, high-profile athletics are still a positive investment.

A bigger athletics stage means more exposure, more exposure means more interest, more interest means more money, and more money is good for everybody.

The price of an education is going to keep going up, everywhere, no matter what. At the very least, GSU students have the opportunity to make sure, with this vote, that the value of their diploma keeps going up, too.

Because, for better or worse, for a majority of folks in this country, perception is reality.


Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-4908.