Monday, June 4, 2012
When the merger between Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences University was announced in January, one of the first questions was whether the sports mascot would be ASU's Jaguar.
That answer seems to be yes, but how else will this consolidation affect one of division two's best athletic programs?
"One thing that we do know is that we will remain the Jaguars, and I think Jaguar Nation is very excited about that," said Augusta State Athletic Director Clint Bryant.
Bryant has done plenty to please Jaguar Nation in his 24 years at the university, and with the addition of the GHSU family, that group is about to get even bigger.
Bryant said, "Those added fans will help all our teams, not just men's and women's basketball, but tennis, golf, volleyball..."
Those new fans should make up a pretty substantial number. The student body is expected to increase by about three thousand alone, and when it comes to the bottom line, that's a very welcome sight for an athletic program.
"Enrollment means student athletic fees," Bryant said. "So we are very excited that it will produce some additional revenue that we will be able to do some things in a lot of different areas that, to be quite candid, we have not been able to do."
Don't expect for that additional revenue to disappear into unseen projects either. The "New U" and its athletic director have big plans.
"We want to improve our baseball and softball complex, which we have on the board, and we'll be starting track and field for men and women as well as adding the sport of women's soccer."
There's always controversy between the cost of athletics and their benefit to the university, but with the success Augusta State has had recently, there's no doubt the Jaguars will help bring an identity to the new university.
"We know that athletics might not be the most important room in the house, but it serves as the front porch of any institution. It's what people see, and I think we have an opportunity in athletics to serve as a glue to create a oneness for the university."
Another question was whether the now bigger school would make the move from division two to division one competition in the coming years. Bryant said they're happy with where they are now, but once the new facilities are in place, that conversation very well might happen.
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