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Jacksonville State studies move to big time
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Jacksonville State studies move to big time
from the B'ham News:

Jacksonville State studies move to big time

Tuesday, July 17, 2007
News staff writer

JACKSONVILLE - The Jacksonville State University board of trustees on Monday formed an exploratory committee to investigate a possible move to the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision.

The group was asked to report to the board's athletics committee at the Oct.15 trustees meeting with information about the cost and feasibility of the jump from the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly called Division I-AA, to the FBS, formerly Division I-A.

JSU President William A. Meehan called the discussion "very, very preliminary," but board member Jim Coxwell said it is just a matter of time before the Gamecocks are playing in the same division - and possibly the same conference - as former archrival Troy.

"We've had contact with the Sun Belt Conference," Coxwell said, "and I've talked to Troy's leaders down there and I've talked to the University of Alabama. It just seems like something that would fit our system here within the next few years.

"I think one year we will be Division I-A. We're headed that way. It's just a matter of time when we get there. It might be next year, it might be 20 years. You never know.

"We're here to please our alumni and that's what they want," Coxwell said. "All the alumni I talk to are very much in favor of it."

Coxwell will serve as chairman of the subcommittee that will also include trustees Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. and Jamie "Red" Etheredge along with Athletics Director Jim Fuller and football coach Jack Crowe.

Jacksonville State's first football team took the field in 1903 and the Gamecocks won their only football national championship in Division II in 1992.

The team began its two-year transition to Division I-AA in 1993.

The team would serve a one-year transition from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision, new names adopted last year by the NCAA.

Meehan said he was interested in learning the costs of making the move.

"I think they just want to see what it would cost," Meehan said. "I think it would cost a great deal.

"I don't know what we'll find out, but they want to take a look at it. At this point, I'm willing to investigate it with them. It is very, very preliminary at this point."

Crowe called the move a natural progression and said the key to success was finding a conference home right away.

"There is some ambiguity because you're not in until you're in and all you're doing is flirting," he said. "As long as you have a reasonable chance and you're on a target list for a conference then it's just a matter of whether those opportunities open up.

"The obvious one is the possibility of being in the Sun Belt. Middle Tennessee, Troy and Northeast Louisiana, we've been in conferences with them all before. We played Louisiana-Lafayette and beat them and we played Arkansas State and beat them in the years that I've been here.

"I caution people who say, `Why don't we play Troy?' I ask them, `Have you been to Troy lately? It's not your granddaddy's Troy.' This has been an unofficial dialogue for some time. I have no problem with it. I feel very comfortable with the idea."

The athletics committee members said it might be easier to raise money for a FBS program - and that payoffs from guarantee games are much higher than for a game against a team in a lower division.

"The cost of athletics at the I-AA level is pretty well set and pretty expensive for all I-AA schools, whether you're Samford or Jacksonville or Austin Peay," Folsom said. "In light of that, this is something we need to analyze.

"There are no preconceived ideas. We need to see what the financial implications are. If it's a positive thing on the financial aspect and a positive for the university, then it's something we'll consider as we move down the road."

The board also approved a recommendation to get preliminary architectural drawings by Sept.1 for a renovation of the south stands that would add 5,000 seats to the 15,000-seat Paul Snow Stadium.

The six-story addition would include a new press box, executive suites, classroom space and possibly a wellness center operated by Jacksonville State that would serve the Calhoun County area.

Jacksonville State to study move to 1A
07-17-2007 08:02 PM
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