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Positives all around for GS Athletics
GS Baseball
Gerogia Southern's Noah Ledford celebrates a home run against Notre Dame during the NCAA Statesboro Baseball regional at J.I. Clements Stadium, the first regional to ever be hosted by Georgia Southern. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Even though there have been a few sports at Georgia Southern that struggled the past year overall, it has been a great year for Georgia Southern athletics. The spring was the most successful in school history with the men and women’s golf teams advancing to the NCAA Regionals, with the guys moving on the national championship in Scottsdale AZ. The Eagle baseball team also hosted their first ever NCAA Regional. 


In addition to what the Eagles did on the field, off the field Georgia Southern tied their all-time academic average at 3.08 cumulative GPA. The athletic department is about to announce they have reached a new record fundraising effort which comes during the construction of two huge facility projects. Georgia Southern recently broke ground on their new indoor athletics facility and the convocation center which will house the Eagle men’s and women’s basketball teams. 


“For us over the next five years we are striving to continue to have competitive excellence,” said Eagle AD Jared Benko. “All metrics of a successful athletic department are being met. Our goal is to continue to exceed and excel. We are about to begin over $80 million dollars in capital projects which are starting and we are hopeful to start a baseball project soon for expansion. All the things of a high growth accelerated program are here right now, and will continue over the next three to five years.” 


One of the ways the Eagles can point to improvement on the field is through the Learfield Director’s Cup standings. The Learfield Cup awards points to schools in all D-1 sports based on how they did in conference and national standings. The Eagles have been on the rise over the past few years which is something Benko points to showing the direction of the athletics department. 


“The Learfield Cup standings is the most unbiased way of showing where a program is,” said Benko. “It shows you the holistic growth of a program and we have continued to improve in each of the past four years. We finished at 143 in the country this past year. That is not where we want to be as we want to be a top 100 team nationally and be the preeminent G-5 program. The thing is you have to start somewhere and we are making huge strides.” 


Benko also foresees in the next 12 months a lot more changes in the college athletic landscape including the expansion of coaching staffs and scholarships. 


“I see potentially a no-limit to the number of coaches on a staff,” said Benko. “I also see a deregulation as to the number of scholarships you will be allowed to give out. The roster cap for baseball is currently 35 and there are only 11.7 scholarships awarded on the D-1 level. I think you will see where each conference will be allowed to set how may baseball scholarships, they will be able to give out.” 


“You are going to see more deregulation from the NCAA to conference members,” said Benko. “I think the Name Image and Likeness (NIL) will continue to progress and evolve. You either change and adapt or you die. For us we have to continue to be progressive and continue forward thinking in everything we do because we want to continue to be one of the premiere schools, not only in the Sun Belt but in the Group of Five.”